Adults with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy may qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Compassionate Allowance Program to quickly identify severe medical conditions that would usually meet the SSA’s standards. Medical conditions often identified under compassionate allowances include certain kinds of cancers, adult brain disorders and several of the rarer medical disorders that affect children. Using compassionate allowances helps the SSA reduce the wait time for the claimant when arriving at a disability benefits decision.
What is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy?
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is the name used to refer to a genetic disorder that causes changes within the dystrophin protein—a protein that aids in keeping muscle cells intact—which ultimately results in progressive muscle weakness and degeneration. There are four medical conditions classified as Dystrophinopathies, and DMD is one of them. The other 3 medical conditions included in this Dystrophinopathies group are Dilated Cardiomyopathy (heart-disease) that is characterized as DMD-associated and has little or no clinical skeletal, muscle, or voluntary disease, a milder form of DMD known as Becker Muscular dystrophy (BMD), and a clinical presentation that is intermediate—falling in between BMD and DMD.
What Is a Compassionate Allowance?
Compassionate allowances are a method used by the SSA to quickly identify medical conditions that would usually meet the SSA’s standards for disability benefits. Using compassionate allowances helps to lower the wait time for the claimant while a disability determination is being made.
There is a long list of medical conditions that typically meet the SSA’s requirements for Social Security disability benefits (SSD). This is a list of some of the medical conditions.
- Acute Leukemia;
- Adrenal Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent;
- Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor;
- Batten Disease;
- Beta Thalassemia Major;
- Cri du Chat Syndrome;
- Degos Disease – Systemic;
- Kidney Cancer - inoperable or unresectable;
- Kleefstra Syndrome;
- Krabbe Disease (KD) – Infantile;
- Kufs Disease - Type A and B;
- DeSanctis Cacchione Syndrome.
To meet the requirements for compassionate allowances for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the medical condition must be found in section 11.13 of the SSA’s Blue Book which is the resource the SSA uses to explain what conditions qualify for SSD and how they qualify.
Medical Evidence for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
When diagnosing any type of muscular dystrophy, a doctor typically starts by taking the patient’s family history and conducts a physical examination. Doctors often find lumbar spine deviation, pseudohypertrophy, gait abnormalities, and several grades of muscle reflexes that are diminished.
Doctors will also often order a blood test called a CK level early in the diagnosis process for DMD. CK stands for creatine kinase, an enzyme that leaks out of muscle that has been damaged. When higher than normal CK levels are identified in a blood sample, it normally means muscle is being broken down by an abnormal process, like muscular dystrophy or inflammation. To get more information, a doctor may ask for a muscle biopsy which is the surgical removal of a small sample of muscle from the patient.
Get Help With Your Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Claim
The key to having a successful (i.e., winning your) disability benefits claim through the Compassionate Allowances Program for any condition is often the applicant’s provision of sufficient evidence that proves the severity of their Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A Social Security Disability attorney may be able to help you file a claim so that you get the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy disability benefits you deserve.
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