Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a severely debilitating condition that affects approximately 5 in every 100,000 people worldwide. Those who live with the disease suffer severe symptoms that interfere with their ability to perform normal, everyday activities. It is understandable then that these individuals may find it impossible to maintain gainful work activity. Unfortunately, the resulting lack of income can cause significant financial stress. In some cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help. If you or someone you know is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and you are wondering whether or not the condition qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information will help you understand the disability claim process and how the Social Security Administration reviews SSD claims based on this diagnosis.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Condition and Symptoms
When an individual suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement begin to waste away. Because of this, the brain is no longer able to send messages to the muscles, which eventually leads to an inability of arm, leg and body mobility. Eventually, as the disease progresses, the muscles in the chest area stop working. At this point it becomes impossible for the individual to breathe on their own.
While the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis will vary depending on the severity of the condition and how far the disease has progressed, common symptoms include: difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, drooling, gagging, weakening of the neck muscles, muscle cramps, progressive muscle weakness, weight loss, speech problems, voice changes, and the possibility of complete paralysis.
In most cases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is diagnosed in individuals who are over fifty years of age. However, there are cases of the condition developing in younger adults. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition. There are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease. Doctors who are treating patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis will also focus on treating the symptoms of the condition to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
While an individual may be able to work during the initial stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease makes it impossible to work as the symptoms progress. The Social Security Administration has recognized this fact and the disease is included in the SSA's Blue Book of Medical Listings under Section 11.10.
According to Section 11.10 of the SSA's Medical Listings, an individual may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis if the case is established by clinical and laboratory findings as described in Section 11.00G of the Medical Listings. When referring to Section 11.00G of the Blue Book, the guidelines state that documentation of the diagnosis must be made by generally accepted methods that are consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice. The evidence provided to the SSA must include documentation of a clinically appropriate medical history, neurological findings consistent with a diagnosis of the condition and the results of any electrophysiological and neuroimaging testing.
If you have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and have the medical evidence to prove this fact, you will need to include this evidence with your application for Social Security Disability benefits. If your medical records are in accordance with the Social Security Administration's published guidelines, you will likely be awarded Social Security Disability benefits during the initial stage of the application process.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Your Social Security Disability Case
Because amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is such a severely disabling condition, you are likely to be awarded benefits at the beginning of the application process, assuming you provide the SSA with the proper medical evidence when submitting your Social Security Disability claim. However, there is the chance that your initial claim for benefits will be denied. If such a situation arises, it is imperative that you consult with a qualified Social Security Disability advocate or attorney as soon as possible.
If you are denied benefits during the initial stage of the Social Security Disability claim process, you will need to pursue a disability appeal in order to obtain the benefits you are rightfully entitled to. While you are technically allowed to represent yourself during the appeal process, retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer will increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Statistics show that applicants who obtain proper representation for their disability appeal are more likely to be awarded benefits than those who choose to represent themselves.
To learn more about filing for SSD benefits with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or to learn more about working with a Social Security Disability laywer, simply fill out the form for a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.