Obtaining disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can sometimes be difficult, but if you suffer from Huntington Disease (HD), a neurodegenerative disorder, it may be fairly easy to get your claim approved.
The SSA classifies HD as a neurological disorder in section 11.17 of its Listing of Impairments, and has included HD in its Compassionate Allowance Program that expedites terminal illnesses. However, it’s still helpful to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) disability attorney to help you file your claim.
What Is Huntington Disease?
Huntington Disease (HD), also known as Huntington’s Disease and Huntington’s chorea, is a genetic condition that results in the progressive degeneration of the brain’s nerve cells. This disease most often occurs during middle age but can develop in people who are younger.
Generally, HD will progress faster with more serious symptoms in someone who has it at a young age. Additionally, any person who has the mutated gene will ultimately have symptoms of HD if he can live long enough for the condition to be diagnosed.
When the brain’s nerve cells deteriorate, it creates problems with a person’s mental and physical abilities. A patient with HD may experience:
- changes in personality
- mental illness
- body and facial movements that aren’t controlled
- cognitive issues that make it difficult to learn, make decisions, or answer questions
Additionally, younger patients may also experience seizures, tremors, slow movements, and rigid muscles.
Early signs of HD include difficulty in answering questions, making decisions, or remembering basic information. A patient may have trouble learning something new or driving, and even a patient’s handwriting may be impacted. As HD advances, patients may have trouble concentrating on cognitive tasks. The onset of HD symptoms may include mood swings, irritability, apathy, anger, and depression.
The symptoms in later stages of HD are more severe. Patients often experience coordination and balance issues, unexpected movement spasms that can affect the eyes as well as the entire body, problems with speech, dementia, and problems swallowing. While each patient’s experience with the disease is different, most see the decline of critical body functions as they deal with the condition, and life expectancy is usually between 10 and 30 years after the onset of symptoms of HD.
Getting Social Security for Huntington Disease
Because HD is a highly aggressive, terminal condition, the SSA added HD to its Compassionate Allowance Program in 2012. This program allows the SSA to make faster decisions on disability claims, so patients who suffer from severe and serious disabilities can get approval and be given financial support within days of their application instead of weeks and months.
If you’ve been diagnosed with HD, you likely won’t go through an extended approval process. However, your application must still meet the SSA’s medical requirements. But even if your symptoms don't meet those listed requirements, your claim may be approved because the SSA understands that this disease is incurable.
When you submit a claim, you need to include important information about your HD, including:
- Your doctor’s diagnosis
- The reasoning behind this diagnosis
- Records of neurological testing, brain imagining, and genetic testing that your doctor used to make the diagnosis
- Results of neurocognitive testing
- Results of psychiatric and/or psychological testing
- Records that show degeneration as it relates to HD
- Lab test results that show over 40 repeats of CAG in the HD gene
We Can Help
If you have HD, you likely qualify for disability benefits from the SSA. If you were previously denied benefits for this disease, it’s important to try again. Hiring an experienced SS attorney who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application is the best way to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.
Contact Cuddigan Law to help you get the disability support you need and deserve to address this debilitating disease.