Normally, the decision to approve or deny an SSDI or SSI disability benefits claim can take up to several months. However, there are instances in which an individual’s disabilities are so apparent that the SSA is able to fast track the approval of their claim through its Compassionate Allowances, or CAL, initiative. Serious medical conditions such as certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a many rare disorders that affect children qualify for CAL consideration. Ataxia is one of them.
The Houston disability benefits attorneys at Marc Whitehead & Associates have helped many clients suffering from Ataxia obtain both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits through the Social Security Administration.
What is Ataxia?
Ataxia is a term used to describe a group of degenerative neurological disorders in which damage to the brain or nervous system causes an individual to lose voluntary coordination of their muscle movement. There are two types of Ataxia: inherited (genetic) and acquired (non-genetic) Ataxia. Acquired Ataxia can occur due to trauma to the cerebellum, or as a symptom of another disease, such as cerebral palsy or MS.
Common symptoms of Ataxia often include:
- Lack of coordination;
- Deterioration of motor skills;
- Difficulty standing or walking;
- Impaired balance;
- Muscle weakness;
- Impaired growth;
- Repetitive bobbing, swaying, and jerking movements;
- Oculomotor dysfunction (problems with movement of the eyes);
- Dysarthria (speech disturbances, including slurred speech);
- Problems with eating and swallowing, drooling;
- Tremors; and/or
- Heart problems.
Ataxia often weakens the immune system. Complications that can arise from Ataxia include lymphoma (cancerous tumors that are in the lymph nodes); kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the spine); diabetes; scoliosis; and severe, recurrent lung infections.
There is currently no cure for Ataxia, or any real means of slowing its progression. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive, consisting mainly of physical and speech therapy. Ambulatory aides such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and motorized carts are often prescribed to help maintain mobility.
Genetic Ataxia is a Compassionate Allowances Medical Condition
In order to be considered for compassionate allowances disability benefits for Ataxia, a claimant must be able to prove that they experience:
Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information;
- Interacting with others;
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; and/or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
The SSA will make their determination based on:
- Molecular genetic tests;
- Clinical evaluations with history;
- Complete clinical neurological examinations; and
- Clinical examination that describes diagnostic features of the impairment.
- The results of diagnostic tests, such as nerve conduction studies, Electromyogram (EMG), Electrocardiogram (EKG), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Holter monitor, blood tests and urinalysis.
Acquired Ataxia generally does not qualify as a CAL condition. However, depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may still qualify for benefits.
Help with SSDI Approval for Ataxia Under Compassionate Allowances Program
Marc Whitehead & Associates want you to receive your disability benefits as quickly as possible, with as little trouble to you as possible. If your Ataxia qualifies as a CAL condition, we can help you put together the evidence you’ll need to prove your claim. The same is true if your Ataxia doesn’t qualify for a CAL. We can also help you appeal if your claim has been denied.
Don’t delay getting the disability benefits you deserve. Contact the offices of Marc Whitehead to schedule a free, initial consultation with one of our highly experienced Social Security lawyers to discuss your case. We can meet remotely, over the phone, you can stop by our offices, or we can visit you in your home or hospital room — whatever’s easiest for you.
We’re based in Houston, TX, but serve clients all over the U.S. We handle SSDI and SSI claims on a contingency basis, which means there are no up-front costs for our clients and we only collect a fee when you receive your benefits.