Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a disabling neurological disease. Those diagnosed with ALS undergo significant lifestyle changes and are unable to work. When an individual is diagnosed with this fatal disease, one of the first things they will need to look into is Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility and terms.
What is ALS?
ALS is a progressive neurological disease that attacks the spinal cord and nerve cells. The majority of those diagnosed with the disease are over the age of 50, though it has been known to appear in children and young adults. While there currently is no cure for ALS, advanced medical research and treatments have developed that may help prolong the life of an ALS patient by several months. These advancements offer hope that an effective cure may one day be discovered. The average life expectancy for an ALS patient is typically three to five years after onset of the disease. The disease initially is localized, but inevitably spreads and attacks other areas of the body. Death most often occurs once the disease attacks the chest and diaphragm, leaving the patient unable to breathe.
No known causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis exist. In approximately 10 percent of cases, the disease is genetic. However, the majority of cases appear to randomly affect individuals without any precise cause.
An individual affected by ALS loses functionality of the muscles affected by the disease. As the disease progresses, neurological control of the muscles is hindered and the patient is eventually unable to move or control the affected muscles. A small percentage of ALS sufferers have also experienced dementia, a lack in decision-making, or memory loss. Primary symptoms typically begin with muscle twitching and weakness that most often starts in the arms or legs. Once the disease has advanced to other parts of the body, it causes speech problems, difficulty swallowing and breathing, muscle contractions, cramps, and muscle atrophy.
Since there is no current cure for ALS, doctors can only prescribe medications that will help patients cope with the progression of the disease. These medications help fight fatigue, ease muscular pain and cramps, and reduce the production of saliva. Other medications may also be prescribed, such as sleep aids or laxatives to help deal with peripheral symptoms of the disease.
Getting SSDI for ALS
Most people who make claims for Social Security Disability Insurance typically end up going through a lengthy appeals process. This process generally takes anywhere from six months to a year, but it can take much longer. However, the Compassionate Allowances program created in 2008 allows individuals with certain disabling conditions to be automatically qualified for SSDI and move through the system at a faster pace. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is one of these medical conditions. Those who have been diagnosed with the disease are automatically eligible for SSDI benefits.
Getting Help from an Attorney
While the process is much quicker than for claims that require more scrutiny, a Social Security Disability attorney can help speed along the process and eliminate the headache of filing necessary paperwork. The Social Security Administration requires specific criteria be met regarding medical records and diagnosis. A Social Security Disability lawyer can ensure these specifications have been properly met and recorded. An attorney can also look over the required paperwork to make sure it has been filled out accurately and see to it that the SSA is provided with all of the necessary information to approve the disability claim quickly and without any red tape along the way.
In general, a diagnosis of ALS means you have only a few years or less to live. You don’t need to waste any more time than necessary filing and waiting for your SSDI claim to be processed and approved. Provided your paperwork is filled out correctly and all medical criteria is met, you should have no problem receiving benefits. Contact a Social Security Disability attorney to learn more about the Compassionate Allowances program and getting your claim approved quickly.
To discuss SSD and SSI claims or appeals, please call us at (215) 464-7200 or email the attorneys of Chermol & Fishman, LLC. The initial consultation is free, and we never charge a fee until we win your case.