Muscular Dystrophy and Social Security Disability

Muscular Dystrophy – Condition and Symptoms

Muscular Dystrophy is a family of muscle diseases which weaken the major muscles associated with movement. While there are some differences between different types of muscular dystrophy, there are some features which are common to all forms of the disease, including:

  • Hereditary. All forms of MD are inherited and genetic.
  • Skeletal and Muscle Weakness.
  • Muscle protein defects.
  • Muscle tissue and cell death.

There are over 100 diseases in all which can be classified as muscular dystrophies, and there are nine which are always classified that way. Most forms of the disease affect multiple body systems. While the exact systems affected can vary, they often include:

  • GI system
  • Heart
  • Nervous system
  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Brain
  • Endocrine glands

In addition to the physical effects of muscular dystrophy, the disease can also affect a person’s moods and cause learning disabilities. Most forms of muscular dystrophy affect young children, though some don’t begin to present until a person is in his or her 40s or 50s. Life expectancy among children with muscular dystrophy varies depending on the type of muscular dystrophy, but is seldom beyond the 30s.

There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Current treatments are designed to address symptoms of the disease and to improve the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Treatments currently in use include physical therapy designed to promote as much muscle use for as long as possible and medication which is designed to slow down the progression of symptoms. Assistive devices, including braces, canes, wheelchairs, and walkers are often used to help people with muscular dystrophy maintain the ability to ambulate. In some cases, surgery and other treatments are used to help people with Muscular Dystrophy.

Filing for Disability with a Muscular Dystrophy Diagnosis

The specific information regarding how the Social Security Administration judges disability claims involving muscular dystrophy can be found in Section 11.13 of the Blue Book. Section 11.00 includes a good deal of useful information regarding how the SSA deals with neurological disorders in general. Additionally, Section 11.04, which deals with neurological loss of motor function in general, is used to help determine whether a person qualifies for Social Security disability.

If you or a child you are filing on behalf of has one of the following types of muscular dystrophy, you qualify for a compassionate allowance:

  • Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
  • Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
  • Merosin Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

With these types of muscular dystrophy, as with other conditions which qualify for a compassionate allowance, claimants are able to bypass much of the claims and appeals process. Conditions which qualify for compassionate allowances are considered to automatically qualify for disability benefits. In general, all you will need to file for benefits with these forms of muscular dystrophy are the medical forms which show the diagnosis and any testing used to confirm the diagnosis.

In addition to automatically qualifying you for benefits, having a compassionate allowance means that you will be able to start receiving benefits much faster than other claimants. Most CA claimants are approved within three weeks of filing for disability and start receiving benefits shortly thereafter.

If you or your child has a different form of muscular dystrophy, the criteria needed to qualify for disability benefits mimic those of other neurological motor function disorders. Essentially, you meet the listing for disability if your muscular dystrophy causes you to have:

  • Lack the ability to speak or understand speech at a functional level.
  • Lack the ability to effectively use two extremities (hands or feet). This can affect gross muscle movements, dexterous movements, station, gait, or any combination of these.

In cases when you don’t qualify for a compassionate allowance, you will want to make sure that medical reports turned in to the SSA are phrased in a way so as to highlight the limitations your condition places on day to day activities. Especially important to note are limitations on your ability to walk, lift, push, pull, bend, grasp, and work with other people.

Your Muscular Dystrophy Disability Case

Even if you qualify for a compassionate allowance, it’s a good idea to have a Social Security disability lawyer review your claim to make sure that all of the documentation is filed and in good order. Those who don’t qualify for a compassionate allowance have a much better chance of being approved for disability benefits if their claims are reviewed and filed by a qualified disability attorney.

Having a social Security disability attorney review the facts of your disability case is not only easy, it’s free. The process starts when you request a free evaluation using the form included on this page. Should you choose to have a Social Security lawyer represent you, his entire fee is paid from a percentage of the back pay which is paid to you when you are first approved for disability benefits.

Additional Resources

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!