Most people who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) benefits will spend at least four months waiting for their application to be reviewed by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. The DDS is the agency which examines disability claims under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines for a qualifying disability.
For a number of reasons, the DDS finds the majority of applications ineligible for SSD, with the national average denial rate being about 70 percent. This means most applicants must undergo a second review and may eventually need to attend an appeal hearing, if their claim is denied the second time around. This entire process can take a year or more to complete, and some applicants wait as long as two years for a final decision from the SSA.
Because people who have very severe disabilities and terminal illnesses don’t have months or years to wait for a decision on their eligibility for SSD benefits, the SSA launched the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008. Under the guidelines of CAL, the DDS can expedite the review and approval of claims which are based on specific kinds of disabilities.
Currently, there are 113 disabling conditions which are among the SSA’s CAL list. An additional 52 were recently approved for the list, including Rhabdomyosarcoma, which will become an active condition in the CAL program as of August 13, 2012.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of Rhabdomyosarcoma, the information that follows may help you understand how the SSA reviews disability claims for the specific condition. The following information will also provide you some guidelines for seeing a quick and smooth approval of disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a form of sarcoma, a type of cancer which affects connective tissues. Though the cause is not entirely known, Rhabdomyosarcoma is believed to develop from abnormal skeletal muscle cells. These defective cells develop in places where skeletal muscles are not present, including the muscles of the head, neck, genital and urinary tract as well as around the intestines. Any location in which connective tissues are present can be affected by Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare form of cancer which affects children, and much more rarely develops in adults. There are multiple forms of the disease. Symptoms vary dependent on the location of the tumors, and the prognosis for patients can also vary widely based on the form the cancer takes.
The two most common forms of the disease include Embryonal and Alveolar. Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma usually develops in younger children between the ages of one and three years, while Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma most often affects older children and teenagers, usually between the ages of 15 and 19 years.
Definitively diagnosing Rhabdomyosarcoma requires a biopsy of tumors. The appearance of the cells and the results of cell stains provide pathologists the information necessary to determine cancer cells are present and the form of the disease.
Rhabdomyosarcoma tumors are surgically removed, when possible. The location and number of tumors determines surgical treatment options. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used in combination with surgery and in place of surgical resection when tumors cannot be removed.
Dependent upon the tumor type, prognosis can vary greatly. Catching cancer early, before it has the chance to spread, leads to the best prognosis. Most forms of the disease respond well to surgical resection combined with conventional cancer treatments as long as the cancer is localized, though treatments can be quite debilitating.
The outcome with Rhabdomyosarcoma is different from one case to the next. Despite the variation in tumor subtypes and prognosis, the SSA has approved the condition for inclusion in the Compassionate Allowances program.
When applying for disability benefits with any diagnosis, you must include substantial medical documentation in your claim. In the case of Rhabdomyosarcoma applications, this includes documentation of diagnosis, treatment and current condition.
The various test results, including MRIs, CT scans, and biopsies should also be in your application. In addition to all of these findings, your application for SSD benefits should include statements from all of your doctors, including the physician who originally suspected a bigger problem as well as those who diagnosed and have treated your child.
The more detailed the documentation you’re able to have in your initial application for disability benefits, the less likely you’ll experience delays in getting the SSD payments to which you may be entitled.
While Rhabdomyosarcoma is approved by the SSA for expedited claims processing under the CAL program, the diagnosis alone is not enough to prove eligibility for benefits. You must still substantiate the diagnosis and overall condition. A Social Security Disability attorney can assist you in putting together your application and getting the appropriate documentation for proving disability.
To learn more about the Social Security Compassionate Allowance listings or to discover more about Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of Rhabdomyosarcoma, request a free case evaluation today.