June is Scleroderma Awareness Month, making it an excellent time to discuss in greater detail the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of Scleroderma.
Scleroderma is a chronic, auto-immune disease that primarily affects the skin but can affect the organs and other tissues of the body as well. Anyone who lives with this condition can attest to its disabling nature. Although the Social Security Administration has reviewed Scleroderma – especially in its more systemic forms – for inclusion in the Compassionate Allowance program for disability benefits, it has not been approved for expedited processing under the CAL guidelines.
The CAL program encompasses more than 150 conditions that are clearly disabling, including terminal illnesses. Applicants who seek SSD benefits with a diagnosis included in the CAL program are not subject to the same rigorous review procedures and lengthy delays as are many applicants. The program is intended to get benefit payments started for individuals who are clearly disabled more quickly and without procedural red tape.
The standard SSA review procedures for disability benefits apply regardless of how severe the affects of your Scleroderma may be. Even if you have one of the more systemic forms of the condition in which multiple organs are involved, you will still be required to proceed through the standard steps for applying for SSD benefits. In other words, your initial application for benefits may take three or more months to be reviewed and you may be denied benefits at this stage.
If you are denied benefits, you may go through a second review by the Disability Determination Services office. You may also need to file for an appeal, if you’re denied a second time. The whole process can take a number of months. Because the review procedures of the DDS are quite involved, the more detailed your application is, the less likely you are to see delays in approval of benefits.
The more thorough you’re able to make your application for SSD the better. Your file should contain substantiating medical documentation proving diagnosis and showing the affects of the condition and the treatments for it.
Because Scleroderma is a progressive disease and affects each patient differently, every application for disability benefits filed with a diagnosis of Scleroderma will be unique. Your application must contain thorough documentation of how your specific case of Scleroderma affects you.
Every doctor involved in diagnosing, treating and reviewing your Scleroderma should compose a statement for your case file. Your application should also include extensive medical record. Test results, lab work, imaging scans, medications prescribed and all other medical records should be present in your file in order to expedite the review and approval of your claim.
In order to shorten the wait for disability benefits and prevent the need for additional reviews, your application should be painstakingly detailed. Seeking legal assistance in putting together your initial application can make the process less cumbersome and help ensure you receive the benefits to which you may be entitled.