Huntington’s disease is brain disorder that is caused by genetic factors. The degenerative brain disease causes permanent damage to nerve cells found throughout the brain. Symptoms of Huntington’s disease may manifest in late childhood, but it is more common for those with the condition to experience symptoms starting in their 30s.
Symptoms of Huntington’s disease include muscle rigidness, involuntary muscle movement, difficulty walking, abnormal movement in the eyes and difficulty swallowing. People who suffer from the condition may have trouble speaking due to rigidness and involuntary movements in the throat and mouth. Cognitive symptoms include impulsiveness, fixation on specific thoughts, lack of self-awareness, poor organization skills and difficulty retaining new information. Psychiatric symptoms include depression, withdrawing from loved ones, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue and suicidal thoughts. People with Huntington’s disease may develop psychiatric conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder, mania or bipolar disorder.
Because Huntington’s disease is a degenerative disease, there is no cure. Symptoms may be managed with treatment options including prescription medications and therapy. Medications can be prescribed to reduce the instance of involuntary muscle movement and rigidness in the muscles. Antidepressants, anti-psychotics and mood-stabilizing drugs may be prescribed to help manage the psychiatric symptoms of the disease. Cognitive, speech, physical and occupational therapies are often prescribed to help sufferers maintain as much independence as possible.
The Huntington’s Disease Society of America is the premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. From community services and education to advocacy and research, HDSA is the world’s leader in providing help for today and hope for tomorrow for people with Huntington’s disease and their families. Click Here for the HDSA’s resources and publications.
HDSA’s network of chapters, affiliates, HDSA Centers of Excellence, social workers and support groups provides a seamless connection for help, education and outreach to HD families and health care professionals across the United States.
Disabled individuals who are unable to work due to symptoms and complications of their condition often struggle to make ends meets. The loss of quality of life that occurs when a disability causes physical limitations can be exasperated by an inability to earn an income. People who have worked throughout their lives and find themselves struggling with job tasks because of their disability may be eligible to collect social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.
SSDI benefits are managed and paid out by the federal government. People who work fund the program through paycheck deductions that are collected and remitted by employers. These benefits are earned and are intended to help make ends meet when a person is unable to work due to a disability that is expected to last for over one year.
Huntington’s disease is a progressive condition that will eventually result in the death of the sufferer. Once symptoms have manifested, the disease often progresses rapidly. Because of the rapid progression and eventual outcome of the disease, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows sufferers to apply for benefits under the Compassionate Allowances Program.
The Compassionate Allowances Program is designed to provide an expedited application experience for those who have a fatal disease. Applicants must have a diagnosis to prove that the condition exists, and it is important for this diagnosis to be recorded by a medial provider. Thorough medical records must also be provided to give the SSA the opportunity to review these records to ensure that the symptoms and complications of the condition match those that are expected to occur when a person suffers from Huntington’s disease.
Living with a disability is difficult enough without the frustrating and tedious process of applying for SSDI benefits. The requirements for being approved for benefits are strict, and the SSA often denies applications due to errors or a failure to provide medical evidence of the severity of the disability. The best way to make the application process go smoother is to consult with a professional who is experienced with this process. SSDI attorneys are knowledgeable about the process and have experience when it comes to dealing with the SSA. These legal professionals act as advocates for their clients.