Ataxia is a rare neurological problem. A progressive, degenerative condition of the nervous system, Ataxia impacts a person’s ability to talk, walk, and use fine motor skills. Patients who suffer from ataxia often appear intoxicated, with symptoms of stumbling or falling; slurred speech; and signs of being uncoordinated. This happens because the cerebellum—the part of the brain that coordinates movement—begins to degenerate. People of all ages can develop ataxia. 

If you suffer from ataxia, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has identified three types of ataxia which qualify for expedited benefits.

The most common type of hereditary ataxia is Friedreich’s ataxia which affects approximately one in every 50 thousand people. Symptoms often develop before the age of 25. Some of these symptoms include difficulty swallowing; progressive weakness in the legs; abnormal curvature of the spine; partial or total hearing and vision loss; diabetes; and loss of feeling in the feet and hands. Patients with this type of ataxia often have a shorter life expectancy than normal.
Spinocerebellar ataxia fits into a group of hereditary ataxias that usually develop between the ages of 25 and 80, although some rare types can start during childhood. Some symptoms are similar to Friedreich’s ataxia, including difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, and peripheral neuropathy—loss of feeling in the feet and hands. However, other symptoms include muscle stiffness and cramps, incontinence, and slower eye movement, requiring the patient to move their head to compensate for the change in vision.
Ataxia telangiectasia is a rare type of hereditary ataxia that impacts about one in every one hundred thousand children. Although symptoms often develop in early childhood, they can develop later. Aside from some similararities to the other two kinds of atazxia, symptoms of AT include red blood vessel “spider-like” clusters on the cheeks and in the corners of the eyes; a weaker immune system that makes patients especially susceptible to infections; and an increased risk of cancer. Approximately 40 percent of patients suffering from AT develop cancer.

If your claim for benefits due to ataxia meets the Social Security requirements, your claim may meet a listing 11. 17. However if your don’t  meet the listing your condition may be severe enough for you to qualify for benefits on the basis of a medical vocational allowance. Don't give up

Hiring an experienced disability attorney can help determine if you meet the Social Security listing for this condition or qualify for a medical voctional allowance. Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law, who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application or appeal to increase the chances of getting an approved claim. Call us for a free evaluation of your case.



Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska