Huntington’s Disease is one of the most devastating illnesses in existence since it gradually breaks down the brain’s nerve cells, causing catastrophic failure of most body functions over time. The disease is inherited, so you cannot spread it to others. If one of your parents has this disease, then you have a 50% chance of developing the condition at some point in your life. The average patient will live 15 – 20 years after the onset of symptoms, and during many of these years will need a great deal of assistance. Toward the end of their lives, patients will need constant medical care in order to live. Working becomes impossible for most sufferers. If you or a loved one has Huntington’s Disease, you will probably need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Learn about applying for SSD Benefits if you have Huntington’s Disease.
What’s Different About Huntington’s Disease?
Huntington’s Disease is caused by an abnormal gene that causes faulty “reprints” to occur. The number of these reprints affects the severity and time of onset in a patient. If you have this abnormal gene issue, you will develop the disease at some point in your life. At this time, there is no cure for Huntington’s, but there are medications and therapies that can improve your quality of life. Some patients are able to be productive for longer periods than others. Your level of fitness and the early diagnosis of the disease may be the key to extending your independence. Unfortunately, all of Huntington’s patients eventually worsen. The disease is a cruel and expensive condition, one that requires a high level of financial assistance for most victims and their families.
What Are the Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease?
The symptoms of Huntington’s Disease may initially appear mild but worsen over time. The progression of the disease is not in doubt. Patients will eventually be totally dependent on a caregiver.
You can develop either early-onset Huntington’s, which shows symptoms before the patient turns 20, or adult-onset with usually begins in a person’s 30s or 40s. The symptoms of early-onset include:
- Slurred speech
- Rigid muscles
- Frequent falls
- Worsening school performance
Adult-onset Huntington’s symptoms include:
- Involuntary movements
- Inferior coordination
- Learning difficulties
- Deteriorating speech
- Memory loss
- Speech changes
- Cognitive decline
- Lessening mobility
The symptoms of this disease are severe and often worsen quickly. As a victim of this disease, you know the symptoms are going to get worse, which wreaks havoc on your emotional state. Some mental issues are caused directly by the disease while others are a result of having such a dire prognosis.
How is Huntington’s Diagnosed?
Genetic testing can determine if you inherited the Huntington’s gene, but not all at-risk patients want to be tested since the implications are so severe. That’s why counseling is recommended before anyone takes the test. Living with the knowledge of impending disability can be overwhelming. On the other hand, testing can show that you do not have the gene, so you cannot pass it on. If your parents have Huntington’s, you probably shouldn’t have children of your own until you are tested or you choose to adopt or have in-vitro fertilization. Doctors can also test fetuses for Huntington’s Disease while they are in the womb.
If you have not had the genetic test, your doctor might choose to give you physical and psychiatric tests to check for disease indicators. If they believe you have symptoms, they will then order the Huntington’s test.
What are the Treatments for Huntington’s Disease?
Researchers are struggling to find a cure, but currently, the only treatment is for the symptoms of this disease. Doctors frequently prescribe drugs such as tetrabenazine, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and tranquilizers. Patients also need a high degree of physical and speech therapy as well as counseling. You may also need special diets and a supervised exercise regimen. Ultimately, Huntington’s patients will probably need full-time nursing care in a facility.
Do Huntington’s Disease Patients Qualify for SSD?
To qualify for either SSDI or SSI, you must have a condition that is listed in their book of disabling conditions. If your condition is not in their book, you must prove that your disability is equal to those that are.
Huntington’s Disease does qualify for benefits under the neurodegenerative disease and the neurocognitive disease headings. Under neurodegenerative criteria, you would have to show that you aren’t able to control the movement of at least two extremities, making walking or simply balancing difficult. The other alternative is to show that you have a “marked” physical problem along with one of the following difficulties:
- Thinking – understanding, remembering, etc.
- Interacting with other people
- Completing tasks
- Common personal management such as the ability to plan, exercise reasonable care and set realistic goals
Early-onset sufferers will immediately qualify for benefits through SSI if they meet financial need thresholds.
Under neurocognitive criteria, you don’t have to prove serious physical difficulties but instead, show that you are mentally impaired. The criteria for this designation includes at least one of the following:
- Problems with listening and attention
- Memory issues
- Impaired language skills
- Poor judgment
- Poor coordination
Even if you don’t meet the above criteria, the SSA might award you benefits if you are unable to perform your current job duties and you can’t reasonably be expected to learn a new job. The SSA may use their RFC – or Residual Functional Capacity form – to determine your eligibility.
Expedited approval may be granted since Huntington’s Disease can progress quite quickly. Under the Compassionate Allowance Program, your benefits can be approved as quickly as one or two months.
What Are Your Options If You’re Denied SSD Benefits?
If your application for SSD benefits is denied, you can appeal that decision. You should engage the services of a lawyer, if you have not already, and ask for a reconsideration of your original claim. An examiner and medical consultant who were not involved in the original determination will look at your application again and possibly reverse the original decision.
If your benefits are still rejected, you have three more levels of appeal available to you: administrative law judge, appeals council and federal court review. You can be successful at appealing your rejection, but you really need the help of an experienced advocate to do so.
Who Can Help Me with my SSD Case?
To improve the odds of a successful application, you need the help of experienced legal professionals. The attorneys at The Good Law Firm have decades of successful Social Security work behind them. Disability specialists can help you prepare your initial application, making certain that all of the necessary paperwork is included and properly presented. They know exactly what information the government wants from you. The experts at The Good Law Group provide step-by-step help throughout the entire application process.
If you applied on your own and were rejected, The Good Law Firm can handle your appeal. In fact, those who brought a legal representative to an appeal hearing were three times more likely to win than those who did not. Your benefits are too important for you to go it alone. You need the expertise of specialists like those at The Good Law Firm.
Life with Huntington’s Disease is challenging enough without having to battle for much-needed benefits. Contact The Good Law Firm today by calling (847) 577-4476 or fill out their online contact form. With Huntington’s Disease, you cannot afford to wait a minute longer. Get the help you need now, and remember, you won’t pay a dime until you see results.