When a child is diagnosed with a severely debilitating condition it can wreak financial havoc on the child’s family. It is not uncommon for one of the child’s parents to stop working in order to care for the needs of the child or for the family to hire professional help for in-home care. Fortunately, in many cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help offset some of the financial stress caused by the child’s disability. The only problem is that many of the disability applicants who file claims each year must wait months if not years before seeing their first payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In some cases, a disability is so severe that the applicant cannot wait months or years for benefits to begin. Fortunately the SSA has recognized this fact and in 2008 the SSA implemented the Compassionate Allowances program. Under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines an applicant may qualify for benefits in a matter of weeks. Over the years the SSA has added more conditions to its Compassionate Allowances listings. In 2012 the SSA added xeroderma pigmentosum as one of the conditions that may qualify an applicant for fast-tracked Compassionate Allowances processing. If your child has been diagnosed with this condition the following information will help you understand how you can ensure that your child’s disability application is processed properly and how you can begin receiving benefits more quickly under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.
Xeroderma Pigmentosum - Condition and Symptoms
Xeroderma pigmentosum, also known as XP, is a disorder in which the DNA of the body is not able to adequately repair the damage caused by ultraviolet light. The disorder is very rare, affecting only approximately 1 in every 250,000 births. While the severity of cases vary from patient to patient, in extreme cases any exposure to light can be harmful and the individual must avoid any sunlight at all costs.
The symptoms of xeroderma pigmentosum can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include severe sunburn when exposed to the smallest amounts of light, development of many freckles, eye sensitivity to the sun, spidery blood vessels, blistering upon contact with sunlight, irregular dark spots on the skin and development of skin cancer.
When an individual is suffering from xeroderma pigmentosum, skin cancer frequently develops at a young age. While prognosis varies from case to case, many people who are born with this condition die at a young age due to metastatic malignant melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Xeroderma pigmentosum is a genetic condition that is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. This means that both parents of a child must carry one defective copy of the mutated gene that causes the disorder. This results in the child having two copies of the mutated gene, which results in the development of the disorder and its symptoms. Because the parents only carry one copy of the defective gene, it is not uncommon that neither parent will show symptoms of carrying the gene that leads to the disorder.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Xeroderma Pigmentosum
Each and every year the SSA receives millions of Social Security Disability claims from around the country. Every year, nearly 70 percent of the initial claims that are filed with the SSA are denied during the initial stage of the application process. These denials are usually due to improperly filled out claim forms or a lack of objective medical evidence.
When an applicant is denied they must file a disability appeal in order to receive disability benefits in the future. The appeal process usually consists of a request for reconsideration and a hearing before an administrative law judge. Because there is such an enormous backlog of appeals that are currently being handled by the SSA, it can take two years or more for a disability applicant to have a hearing scheduled.
Fortunately, the SSA has recognized that not all Social Security Disability applicants can wait such extensive periods of time for their disability claims to be processed and approved, such as those who are filing due to xeroderma pigmentosum. As a result, the SSA has included this condition in its Compassionate Allowances listings. Under the Compassionate Allowances program, an applicant may be approved for Social Security Disability benefits in a matter of weeks rather than having to wait months or even years before benefits can begin.
It is important to remember that even though xeroderma pigmentosum is now included in the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances listings, you must still do your part to prove your case to the SSA. This means filling out all of the claim forms properly and ensuring that there is enough medical evidence to support your claim for disability benefits.
Xeroderma Pigmentosum and Your Disability Case
If you are applying for disability benefits for a child who has been diagnosed with xeroderma pigmentosum you should consider retaining the services of a disability attorney prior to filing your claim. Many disability applicants are denied due to improperly completed claim forms or a lack of medical evidence. Working with a disability attorney can increase your chances of being approved during the initial stage of the application process and receiving your benefits in a matter of weeks as your attorney can ensure that your forms are filled out properly and you have provided the SSA with enough medical documentation to support your claim.