In many cases, the Social Security Disability process could take months or even years. Claims Examiners routinely deny applications for benefits, at least in part. Then, most people must wait many months for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
The CAL Compassionate Allowance List allows a select few people to bypass this process. In August 2020, the Social Security Administration added five new conditions to this list. Given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, one would think that most of these conditions would be respiratory and other illnesses related to coronavirus. But that is not the case. The new additions are all childhood diseases associated with extremely rare genetic mutations. Many of these conditions have only a handful of victims.
Since the program’s inception in 2012, the CAL has helped about 600,000 applicants fast-track their petitions. That’s about 5 percent of all SSDI applicants. This number is hardly eye-popping, but still nonetheless, it is rather significant. If your paycheck was 5 percent higher, you would probably notice the difference.
So, at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, our Memphis SSI disability lawyers always compare the claimed condition with the CAL list. Since we also account for things like misdiagnosis, if the applicant’s symptoms are similar to a CAL condition, we may suggest another medical examination.
Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumors
DSRCT is an extremely rare form of cancer which affects about twenty people a year, mostly white males between ages 10 and 30. Lingering abdominal pain is about the only reported symptom. So, in these few cases, a bellyache is much more than a bellyache. A genetic test confirms the presence or absence of DSRCT. An abnormal fusion of two genes is the exclusive cause of this disease.
Overall, cancer survival rates have improved significantly since the 1990s. That’s partially because some experimental treatments have shown great promise. But that’s mostly because of improvements in the three basic cancer treatment areas, which are:
- Radiation: This therapy shrinks the cancerous tumor. Today’s radiation treatments are much more targeted than they were in the twentieth century. So, doctors can use more powerful radiation doses without fear of unduly damaging nearby organs.
- Surgery: After doctors shrink the tumor, they surgically remove it. Because radiation is so much more successful, surgery is often more successful. One concern is that the powerful radiation treatment, along with powerful chemotherapy drugs, often leave the patient in a weakened state.
- Chemotherapy: Today’s chemotherapy drugs are much more powerful than they were in the 1990s. So, doctors can often kill most remaining cancer cells.
Cancer survival rates have gone up, and cancer treatment bills have gone up even more. Families need significant financial resources to combat conditions like DSRCT. And, at Heermans SSA law firm, we help families obtain these resources.
About 100 children worldwide suffer from NCBRS. Physical symptoms include severe speech limitations, sparse hair, atypical facial characteristics, like an enlarged mouth, and scoliosis. A de novo gene mutation causes NCBRS. So, these victims show no genetic history of NCBRS or any other related condition. This condition is incurable, but it is treatable, since the symptoms resemble a combination of autism and epilepsy.
Children with some physical abnormalities, such as overly-large thumbs and toes or facial abnormalities, along with severe intellectual disabilities, often suffer from RTS. Doctors believe a genetic mutation causes RTS, but in some cases, the cause is a mystery.
With proper treatment, many of the more severe intellectual disabilities significantly diminish by around age 6. And, unless the child has a pre-existing cardiovascular or other condition, RTS normally does not affect life expectancy. In fact, it is not unusual to see adults with RTS.
Generally, if a child receives Social Security Disability benefits, those benefits continue through adulthood, especially if the condition does not markedly improve.
Secondary Brain Adenocarcinoma
Adenocarcinoma is cancer in glands which secrete mucus. That list includes the lungs, prostate, esophagus, pancreas, and colon. It is nearly always a family history/genetic mutation condition. Generally, adenocarcinoma is fairly easy to diagnose with a blood test or CT scan. Furthermore, the aforementioned radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy often effectively treats adenocarcinoma, Like all cancers, this disease never goes away entirely. But it often goes into remission and stays there.
But the CAL addition does not apply to adenocarcinoma. Instead, it only applies to tumors which originated with adenocarcinoma and then metastasized to the brain. Symptoms include seizures, headaches, cognitive impairments, and severe depression. These tumors are much more difficult to treat than lung or other tumors..
Early intervention is usually the key to preventing SBA. If doctors contain the cancer, metastasis is normally not an issue.
Infantile and Juvenile GM1 Gangliosidosis
This genetic disability affects cell lysosomes. These particles are basically digestive enzymes. However, they also perform other functions, such as warding off bacterial infections and properly developing cells. As a result, GM1 Gangliosidosis progressively destroys some nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Some specific symptoms include:
- Abnormal facial features, such as a distorted smile,
- Hypotonia (poor muscle tone),
- Hepatosplenomegaly (enlarged spleen or liver),
- Visual impairment, and
- Developmental regression.
There is no cure for GM1 Gangliosidosis, a condition that is roughly akin to cerebral palsy. However, extensive physical therapy can ease the symptoms. Therapists can usually train uninjured areas of the brain to assume lost functions.
The disturbing thing about this disease is that it is progressive. So, these children often face a lifetime of struggle, even with the best available physical therapy.
If you believe that you or a loved one has a CAL condition or would like us to assist you in starting the disability claim process or appealing a claim denial, contact the Mid-South SSI lawyers near you at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. We offer a free and complimentary review of your claim no matter where you are at in your claim process. You can contact us at (901) 244-0057 or send us a message here.