There’s nothing that makes your world stop like finding out that your child has a terminal disease. Most terminal children’s disease require a level of parental and medical care that it can be impossible in many cases to continue working full time, adding the worry of depleted income to an already stressful situation. Fortunately, Social Security disability programs can help fill the income gap.
One of the down sides to applying for Social Security disability benefits for your child is that it can be a very long process. In many cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) won’t even look at your application for several months. On average, the SSA takes three to six months before rendering an initial decision on disability cases. Even then, 70% of the cases they receive are denied benefits.
Many claimants are eventually able to win their case on appeal, but this process has several steps (none of which can be skipped) and often takes eighteen months or even longer. When you’re dealing with a terminal childhood disease, you don’t have that kind of time.
To their credit, the SSA is working on fixing this discrepancy. One of the major strides they have taken in recent years is to develop a set of listings to identify certain terminal or clearly debilitating conditions which automatically qualify applicants for disability benefits. These listings, called compassionate allowances, allow people with qualified conditions to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits in as little as three weeks, and to start receiving benefits immediately afterwards.
The compassionate allowance listings include several infantile and childhood ailments, including both terminal conditions and neurological conditions which hinder a child from developing age appropriate life skills. One of the childhood conditions approved for a compassionate listing is Gaucher Disease (GD).
Gaucher Disease (GD) – Condition and Symptoms
Gaucher Disease is an inherited lipid storage disease which causes metabolic problems by causing large quantities of a fatty substance known as glucocerebroside to accumulate in a child’s bone marrow, spleen, lungs, and liver. In some cases the glucocerebroside also accumulates in the brain.
When the glucocerebroside builds up within the organs and cells, it prevents them from functioning as they are designed to, creating a number of resultant problems, most notably brain damage. The disease is genetic and typically presents at an early age (between three months and two years of age). Most children with Gaucher disease die within two years of the first symptoms of the disease.
As of this time, there is no cure for Gaucher Disease, and no effective treatment which can slow or reduce the symptoms or resulting complications. Death occurs almost invariably by age four.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Gaucher Disease
Because Gaucher disease has a listing as a Compassionate Allowance, applying for Social Security disability benefits is designed to be relatively hassle free. Your child qualifies for Social Security disability automatically by having the condition and in most cases, the benefits will be approved in a matter of a few weeks. Most applicants start receiving benefits within a month of application.
You need to make sure, as with any other application for Social Security disability benefits, that your application includes all of the pertinent medical documentation demonstrating that your child has Gaucher disease. This typically includes the glucosylceramidase enzyme assay level, any physical findings which corroborate the diagnosis, and the evidence that your child’s neurological development has been delayed.
While there is no doubt that you will qualify for Social Security disability benefits, it still behooves you to make sure that all of the medical documentation is included when you initially turn in your application for Social Security disability benefits. Having all of the pertinent information and documentation complete and correct will generally result in your claim being approved for the compassionate allowance program and shuffled quickly through the SSA system so that you can start receiving benefits right away.
Your Gaucher Disease Social Security Disability Case
There is no better way to make sure that all of your claim information is in order than to have an experienced Social Security disability attorney review your claim with you. In addition to the fact that they are thoroughly familiar with the SSA’s system and what they are looking for, a good Social Security disability lawyer will know how the medical documentation needs to be worded to ensure that the SSA is likely to place your claim for a compassionate allowance (doctors, for all their good intentions, are trained to help treat and cure diseases, not to deal with the bureaucracy of the SSA).