Stiff Person Syndrome and Social Security Disability

The majority of Americans live on a fixed income or limited budget. They count on their weekly or bi-weekly paychecks just to make sure the bills are paid and there is food on the table. When one of these hard-working Americans is faced with a disabling condition that prevents them from maintaining full-time work activity, the financial ramifications can be devastating. Fortunately, in many cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help. The only problem is that it can take many applicants upwards of two years to begin receiving the benefits they need. Waiting so long for benefits to begin can wreak financial havoc on a family and some applicants suffer from conditions that are so severe that they cannot possibly endue the standard claim and appeal process. Fortunately the SSA has recognized this fact and, as a result, has implemented the Compassionate Allowances program. Under this program individuals who suffer from covered conditions may qualify for expedited processing of their disability claim and may receive benefits in a matter of weeks. If you have been diagnosed with stiff person syndrome the following information will help you understand how to qualify for disability benefits more quickly and with less hassle.

Stiff Person Syndrome - Condition and Symptoms

Stiff person syndrome, also known SPS, stiff man syndrome and Moersch-Woltman Condition, is a rare condition that is marked by progressive stiffness of the body with muscle spasms that result in posture deformity.

Stiff person syndrome occurs in three different stages including early stage, late stage and end stage. The symptoms experienced will vary from case to case and will depend on the stage in which the person is diagnosed. Common symptoms include an exaggerated upright posture, stiffness in the back, back pain, sleep disturbance, impaired movement, severe muscle spasms, emotional disturbances, lumbar lordosis, muscle and skeletal ruptures and fractures and joint deformity.

While the condition is usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50, the disease has been found in children as young as three years of age. Prognosis depends on the severity and stage of the condition. Treatment focuses on alleviating the muscle rigidity. In severe cases the disease can be life threatening due to difficulty swallowing and breathing.

The exact cause of stiff person syndrome is still unknown. Sixty percent of those with the condition have anti-GAD antibodies present. However, since 40 percent do not have the antibody present this cannot be considered to be a direct cause of the disease. In some cases, a mutation of the GLRA1 gene (which is the glycine receptor) is the cause of the disease, but this is not the case with all of the people who develop the condition.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Stiff Person Syndrome

When you file a disability application with the Social Security Administration your application will be among the millions that will be filed this year. It is crucial that your application is presented properly. If it is not, it is likely to be among the 70 percent of initial applications that are denied each year. A denial of your initial application will result in a delay in receiving your disability benefits.

It is important to note that even though stiff person syndrome has been included in the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances listings, this does not mean an automatic approval of your disability claim. You need to make sure that you provide the SSA with detailed answers on the disability claim forms and provide sufficient medical evidence to support your claim. Evidence can include medical records, lab results, treatment histories and written statements from treating physicians. These records will be carefully considered when the SSA is reviewing your claim for benefits so it is important to provide as much evidence as possible.

Stiff Person Syndrome and Your Social Security Disability Case

If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits due to a case of stiff person syndrome, you may want to consider retaining the services of a disability attorney prior to filing for benefits to help you with your claim. As stated above, if you want the best chance for approval, it is crucial that your claim forms are filled out properly. A disability attorney can help ensure that your application paperwork is in order and that you have provided the SSA with sufficient medical evidence. An attorney can also ensure that your application is presented in such a way that the SSA understands the severity of your condition and how it qualifies for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.