Compassionate Allowance: Adult Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

Before the enactment of Compassionate Allowance listings beginning in 2008, it could take several months, sometimes even years, for even the most seriously disabled people to begin collecting Social Security Disability benefits. While it’s understandable on some level that the SSA is swamped with more disability cases than it can handle in a timely manner, this was unacceptable for people with fatal or otherwise progressively debilitating conditions.

Since 2008, Compassionate Allowances have been granted to people with qualifying disabling conditions to enable them to be processed more quickly. These allowances are for people who have conditions that are considered to be completely disabling, and have potential to be terminal. Because these conditions are automatically considered completely disabling, the Social Security Administration has no need to further determine the functioning capacity of claimants who have them.

This allows the Social Security Administration to separate the claims of people with qualifying conditions from the rest of the cases that need to be examined more thoroughly. Because of this, Social Security Disability claims that qualify for a Compassionate Allowance can generally be processed in a matter of weeks (about three weeks in most cases), rather than taking several months.

In total, there are 88 condition that currently qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, but the Social Security Administration is holding regular hearings to consider other conditions that may be added to the list. One of the conditions that currently qualifies individuals for a Compassionate Allowance is Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – Condition and Symptoms

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a brain disorder that typically strikes people around age 60. The disease is always fatal, and death usually (90% of the time) occurs within one year of onset. Symptoms of CJD include deterioration of mental faculties and significant motor problems. There are several distinct forms of CJD, which are distinguishable by their causes.

The most common form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is sporadic. In these cases, the cause is unknown, though it is widely believed that it has to do with a spontaneous change in the prion proteins. In other cases, CJD may be hereditary (passed down genetically) or acquired (transmitted during various types of medical interventions). An extremely rare form of CJD, Variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease is believed to be contracted by eating infected meat, such as mad cow diseased beef. This variable CJD is more likely to affect younger people, often in their late twenties and has a slightly longer survival rate.

Regardless of how one contracts CJD, the symptoms are similar. The brain begins to form spongiform encephalopathies (prion diseases), which cause the brain to be filled with small, fluid-filled holes. This gives the brain matter an appearance much like a sponge when examined under a microscope.

While a brain biopsy is the only way to positively identify Creutzfeld-Jakob disease with absolute certainty, these tests are not usually conducted because of the significant risks they pose to the individual without in turn offering any practical help (i.e., correctly diagnosing CJD doesn’t help because the disease can’t be treated). Brain biopsies are occasionally performed if medical professionals need to rule out other brain disorders that are more treatable.

There are several other tests doctors use to diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, but in the end diagnosing CJD is largely a matter of eliminating other possibilities. The tests include bain MRIs, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, electroencephalography and (in cases of variable CJD) tonsil biopsies.

Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – Adult

If you have been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the unfortunate truth is that you don’t have much time to wait. You need to start getting your affairs in order. One of the first things you should do is contact the Social Security Administration and file a disability claim.

Additionally, you should have a Social Security Disability lawyer go over the claim for you. Although you will qualify for a Compassionate Allowance because of your Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, you will need to make sure that everything required is included in your file. Because CJD directly affects your functioning capacity, it is especially important to have your case handled by someone who can give you competent representation and advice.

You will want to make sure that your medical file includes all of your doctor’s clinical notes, and that the results of the neurological examination that led them to conclude that you have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Your Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Social Security Disability Case.

Your condition qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits. As long as you can show that you have been diagnosed with CJD, you should have little difficulty having your case places into a Compassionate Allowance and accepted quickly. Most people who make Social Security Disability claims because of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease are approved for benefits within three to four weeks of the initial application. With that said, it is important to have a Social Security Disability attorney review your case to make sure everything is in order.

To find out more about Compassionate Allowances, your Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Social Security Disability claim, or to have an experienced Social Security Disability attorney go over your claim with you, fill out the request for a free evaluation today.