Adults who have been diagnosed with Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease may be able to obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) through the compassionate allowance program.
Typically, it can take many months for most disability benefits to be approved, if ever, but very serious and normally fatal inherited illnesses such as Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease may qualify for a compassionate allowance. This reduces the time before disability payments to be processed. The average time before payments start being paid through the compassionate allowance program is currently 19 days.
What is Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease?
Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease is a very serious, but rare, normally inherited neurodegenerative brain disorder. It usually develops in early to late middle age, typically between the ages of 35 to 55 years. Once the symptoms start to appear, the prognosis for survival is very poor and sufferers may only live for another 2 to 10 years. The sufferer’s most obvious symptoms include:
- rigid muscle tone (spasticity);
- loss of vision;
- slurring of the speech (dysarthria);
- involuntary eye movements (nystagmus);
It is unlikely that anyone who develops Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease can be treated successfully enough for them to survive and normally the condition is ultimately fatal. Pneumonia or other medical conditions which have been facilitated by the disease may be the actual final cause of death.
What is a Compassionate Allowance?
A compassionate allowance may be approved when a disability benefits applicant meets certain severe and urgent medical criteria. The granting of a compassionate allowance reduces the time before disability benefits payments are made significantly, typically a few weeks rather than months.
Adults whose medical history and symptoms demonstrate that they have Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease have no known treatment. Typically, the condition leads to the sufferer’s death after a few years of slow, but progressive deterioration.
These factors meet the criteria the SSA has established for rapid approval for disability benefits payments through the compassionate allowance program. Payments may be available via SSDI if the sufferer has sufficient accumulated work credits or through the SSI program if assets and income are limited.
Medical Evidence For Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease
There is no specific Blue Book listing for Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease as yet, but criteria matching other listings may be used in assessing whether the symptoms qualify under the compassionate allowance program.
Medical evidence that is assessed may include any of the following:
- CT scan of the head;
- EEG to show electrical activity in the brain;
- SPECT analysis (single-photon emission computed tomography);
- MRI scan of the brain;
- Reduced blood flow in the brain.
Get Help With Your Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease Claim
Because of the very serious and normally fatal consequences of the inherited Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Disease, it may qualify for early disability benefits payments being processed through the compassionate allowance program. Legal help from a disability attorney can help you apply for benefits under this program.
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