May is National Neurofibromatosis Month, and as such, it seems an apt time to discuss in some detail the application process for Social Security Disability benefits when diagnosed with this condition.
While Neurofibromatosis is a progressive disorder and one that is clearly disabling, given the nature of the disorder itself and the range of symptoms it can cause, one would think being found eligible for SSD would be a given. However, this is not the case. The application and review process for receiving disability benefits is lengthy and involved, regardless of the diagnosis with which you’re filing.
The fact that Neurofibromatosis causes a cluster of symptoms, which in combination can be quite limiting for those who suffer from the disorder, makes the application process more complicated. You must thoroughly document the affects of all symptoms and include detailed information about the manner in which each (and all of them in combination) result in severe limitations for you with everyday activities, including your ability to hold a job.
Because there are also three forms of Neurofibromatosis, and the fact that most people, including those who work for the Disability Determination Services of the Social Security Administration are not aware of the condition and its implications for people afflicted with it, SSD applicants are sometimes denied benefits simply due to a lack of adequate knowledge on the condition by those responsible for determining eligibility.
In other instances, applicants are denied benefits because they have not sufficiently documented their disability within their SSD application. This may be because the applicant, who is in desperate need of financial assistance due to an inability to work, rushes through the application process. Or it may be simply that the applicant doesn’t understand the degree of detailed information necessary to adequately prove a disability under the SSA’s guidelines.
Any application for SSD, regardless of the condition causing disability, must contain detailed medical records, physician statements and other documentation proving the severity of the condition and the resulting inability to work, deeming it a medically determinable impairment. A definitive diagnosis of Neurofibromatosis must also be proven and you must additionally show appropriate treatment has been sought and that treatments received have not improved your condition enough to prevent or reverse disability. This is true even with a progressive disorder like Neurofibromatosis, which obviously worsens over time, causing more and more issues for those afflicted by it.
Knowing exactly how to document your disability to satisfy SSA eligibility requirements can be challenging. Your neurologist and/or other physicians can help you document your disability and those who are more familiar with the SSD application process can be very effective in gathering the right documentation and composing appropriate physician statements for substantiating your claim for disability benefits.
Having the help of a Social Security lawyer who is familiar with the application and review processes can also make the application process less challenging. An attorney can review your case, help you get the appropriate medical records and other documentation into your application, and can even argue your claim at the SSD hearing, if you’re initially denied benefits and must go before an Administrative Law Judge to appeal the decision.