ALS DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE
WHAT IS LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE OR ALS?
ALS disability benefits are available for you if you have Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. For the following reasons, ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a severely disabling and fatal disease. Very few people survive more than a handful of years after their ALS diagnosis. For example, Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with the disease when he was 36 years old and he died two years later. Lou Gehrig was a famous professional baseball player for the New York Yankees. He played for 17 seasons and had the longest consecutive game streak, 2,130 games. This was a record was thought to be unbreakable. It stood for 56 years until it was surpassed by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995.
FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO HAD ALS DISABILITY
Lou Gehrig’s game streak ended on May 2, 1939, when he voluntarily took himself out of the game lineup. At that time, this shocked his teammates and fans, because he held the game streak record and it was growing. However, Gehrig believed something was wrong with him physically and it was affecting his game performance. He was correct. Later, his physical issues were diagnosed as ALS. As a young, professional baseball pro, his death from ALS was tragic. However, the way he dealt with his disease was heroic. That is why ALS is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS is a degenerative disease that affects brain nerve cells and spinal cord cells. It causes these nerve cells to deteriorate. Eventually, the person with ALS loses control of their voluntary muscles. This makes it difficult or impossible for the person with ALS to walk, talk, speak, swallow and breathe. People with ALS will usually first experience symptoms of muscle weakness in their hands and feet or arms and legs. The disease is typically fatal three to five years from when the first symptoms appear.
Another famous person with ALS was Stephen Hawking. Hawking is one of the greatest theoretical physicists of all time. He was born in 1942 and diagnosed with early-onset ALS in 1963. At the age of 21, he was told he only had two years left to live. The doctors were incorrect about his ALS. He lived for over 50 years with the disease. However, over time, his ALS paralyzed him. And, he lost the ability to speak. Therefore, he communicated through a speech-generating device. This author once attended a speech by Hawking. At the speech he joked, through his speaking device, that using the speech device he could change his accent. He thought about changing his voice to a Texan accent that night, just for fun.
Hawking became wheelchair bound. However, despite his physical challenges, he lived a productive life. He died on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76, after living with ALS for more than 50 years.
No one knows why some people are able to live a lengthy life with ALS. Genetic research is ongoing to determine how to lengthen life for those with ALS. For most people, however, ALS proves quickly fatal. Yet some indivduals live with the disease and it’s disabling symptoms for a much longer time.
While there is no cure for ALS, the disease can be managed with medication. Those with ALS can also undergo physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Additionally, patients can also use ventilators to assist with breathing. If you have ALS, your symptoms will reach a point that you are no longer able to work. If that is the case, then you should apply for Social Security Disability & SSI benefits with the help of Cannon Disability Law.
ALS DISABILITY UNDER SSA’S COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCES
Under SSA’s POMS, ALS qualifies as a Compassionate Allowance. This means that because your disability is severely disabling and fatal, you should receive a quick grant of disability benefits. In other words, ALS requires your application for disability benefits to move to the front of the line. ALS qualifies as a critical disability case.
The Compassionate Allowances program is a list of disabilities which are severe medical conditions. These conditions are so severe that the SSA believes the claimant should automatically qualify for disability benefits. The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims that Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. If you have medical confirmation of your diagnosis, you should submit it along with your application.
Currently, more than 600,000 people have been approved through Compassionate Allowance program. Over the last decade, the list has grown to a total of 242 conditions, including some cancers, brain disorders, and rare disorders that affect children. ALS is on the compassionate allowances list.
SSA’S EXPLANATION OF DIAGNOSTIC TESTING FOR ALS
SSA states there is no one test or procedure to establish the diagnosis of ALS. The SSA believes your diagnosis of ALS is based on your medical history and neurological findings consistent with an ALS diagnosis. The SSA will look to eletrophysiological and neuro-imaging testing to rule out other impairments that may cause symptoms. SSA also states that an ALS diagnosis may be supported by an EMG and nerve conduction study. But, these tests may be negative or only suggestive of the ALS diagnosis.
PHYSICAL FINDINGS FOR ALS ACCORDING TO THE SSA
The SSA states that the physical findings for ALS will include degeneration of both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons. They state that since the motor neurons die, they cease to send messages to muscles. This creates muscles that, as they gradually weaken stop movement. Individuals with ALS lose their strength. They also lose the ability to move their arms, legs, and body.
When muscles in the diaphragm and chest stop working, you lose the ability to breathe without ventilatory support. However, ALS does not affect your ability to see, smell, taste, hear, or recognize touch. It also does not usually impair your ability to think or affect your other cognitive abilities. However, several recent studies suggest that a small number of patients experience problems with memory and making decision. There is also evidence that some may individuals develop a form of dementia. The cause of ALS is not known, and scientists do not yet know why ALS strikes some people and not others.
TREATMENT FOR ALS OR LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE
There is no cure for ALS. However, the FDA has approved two drugs to treat ALS. These are riluzole (Rilutek) and edaravone (Radicava) or (Radicut). Clinical trials with ALS patients showed that riluzole prolongs survival by several months. But, Riluzole does not reverse the damage already done to motor neurons. Additionally, those taking the drug must be monitored for liver damage and other possible side effects.
Radicava is an intravenous infusion given by physician. Other treatments for ALS are designed to your relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life. Health care professionals can design a plan of medical and physical therapy, as well as special medical equipment, to keep you mobile and comfortable. Physicians can prescribe medications to help reduce your fatigue, muscle cramps, and control muscle spasticity. They can also prescribe medications that reduce excess saliva and phlegm. Other drugs can help you with pain, depression, and sleep trouble.
SSDI & SSI DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR ALS
Under the Compassionate Allowances program, your disability application will be fast-tracked due to your ALS diagnosis. You don’t have to do anything to qualify for expedited processing. Having an ALS diagnosis will make you automatically eligible. However, if you file an application with the help of a disability lawyer, then they can make sure SSA does their job. If you have ALS, you should receive a decision from the SSA within a couple of weeks of filing your disability application.
Social Security Disability benefits are available to you if you cannot work due to ALS. However, in order to qualify for SSD benefits you must have enough work credits. For example, if you are over the age of 30, then you must have worked at least 20 quarters within the ten year period just prior to the occurrence of your disability. The Social Security Administration often calls this rule the “20/40 rule.” Find out more about the definition of work and substantial gainful activity here. SSD benefits come with Medicare benefits.
If you have ALS, there is no 24 month waiting period for Medicare benefits. Therefore, you should learn more about Medicare Advantage Plans as soon as you can. These plans can lower your health costs.
Please note that if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSD benefits, then you can apply for SSI benefits. However, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits are different than Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. SSI benefits are a “supplement” to SSD benefits, paid to you if your monthly SSD benefit is a low amount of money.
FILING A CONCURRENT CLAIM FOR BOTH SSD AND SSI BENEFITS
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is also a benefit you can receive if you have never had a job. Or, if you have only worked for a short period of time. In order to be eligible for SSI you must meet SSA’s income and asset requirements. For example, you cannot have more than $2000 in the bank or you are ineligible for SSI. The financial asset rules that govern SSI are complex. Therefore, you may need the legal help of an SSI disability attorney to see if you are eligible. SSI benefits also come with Medicaid. Find out more about Medicaid benefits here.
If you have worked full-time and earned a low wage, you could qualify for a combination of both SSI and SSD benefits. The SSA calls this a “concurrent claim.” SSI benefits are a supplement to SSD benefits. For example, if your SSD amount is $500 a month, SSI will kick in to bring you to a higher amount. Currently, the SSI amount is $841 a month for an individual. For a couple, the current SSI amount is $1,261 for a married couple.
Together, the two benefits of SSD and SSI, can bring you to a higher monthly benefit amount than one benefit alone. However, in order to win SSI, you must have a severe disability and be unable to work for 12 months or longer. Additionally, you must meet SSA’s income and asset requirements.
If you have ALS, you may reach the point that you need the help of a family member or someone you trust to handle your benefits. This person is called a representative payee. Learn more about what a representative payee does for you here.
SSA’S DISABILITY LISTING FOR ALS – LISTING 11.10
In order to meet disability listing 11.10, the SSA requires an official medical diagnosis of ALS. The SSA requires medical documentation of your ALS from a doctor. They also require laboratory testing to establish the diagnosis when the clinical findings of upper and lower motor neuron disease are not present in three or more regions. Electrophysiological studies, such as nerve conduction studies and an EMG, might also support your diagnosis of ALS. Unfortunately, the SSA will not purchase these studies. You will have to have the studies done. Then, you will need to submit them to the SSA.
To help you determine your diagnosis and obtain disability benefits, your doctor might also order blood and urine tests. Additionally, your doctor may order a muscle biopsy in order to rule out diseases other than ALS.
You will most likely have to see a neurologist, who is a specialist in ALS, in order to obtain your diagnosis. Social Security will find you disabled if you have provided proper medical records and a neurologist has officially found that you have ALS.
WIN SSD & SSI FOR ALS USING YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
If your ALS does not meet or equal the criteria under listing 11.10, you can use your residual functional capacity to prove you cannot work. The RFC is used to prove that you cannot perform your past relevant work. It is also used to show that you cannot perform other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.
Once the SSA determines the impact of your ALS symptoms, they will know your residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA determines your RFC by reviewing your medical records and asking you questions about your abilities. For example, the SSA will look at how your ALS symptoms impact your ability to do everyday tasks, such as sit, stand, and walk. They will also look at your fatigue to see if you need to lay down during the workday.
If you RFC is limited, then it can prevent you from working. For example, if you cannot walk due to ALS, then all jobs that require significant walking or standing will not be available to your. Likewise, you may not be able to sit for 8 hours a day in an office chair. Or, you may need to lay down during the day due to your ALS. If so, this prevents you from working.
Additionally, the SSA will decide whether or not the impact of your ALS is reducing your mental abilities. For example, does your pain impair your ability to concentrate. Or, does ALS cause you to unable to communicate? The SSA develops an RFC assessment to determine if you can work. Your attorney can help you prepare an RFC assessment for your doctor to complete. Find out more about the Residual Functional Capacity assessment here.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR ALS DISABILITY CASE
You do not have to obtain SSD benefits for ALS on your own. Cannon Disability Law can help file your disability application. Also, we can help you through the appeal stages of the SSD process. That way, you can focus on your health. Our attorneys and specialists can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Contact SSA as soon as your application is filed to explain that due to your ALS you qualify for a Compassionate Allowance
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your disability hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and cross-examine vocational and medical witnesses. Read more about vocational experts here.
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here.
- Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for disability benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you only have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you a summary of your application to you in the mail. In order for your application to be complete, you must sign the summary and mail it back to them. Additionally, once you receive a denial from the SSA, you have 60 days to file an appeal of SSA’s unfavorable decision. You must not fail to meet the 60 day time limit set by the SSA. If you do, then you will have to start the process over again and you will lose any benefits you could receive on the old application.
HIRE US FOR OUR YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and back due due SSD benefits for our clients If you want to win benefits for ALS, then you need to hire an attorney with the experience to win your case. Also, you need a lawyer to show the SSA that your ALS qualifies for disability under the compassionate allowances rules. Contact us today. We can help you win benefits for ALS.
If you want to learn more about Cannon Disability’s representatives, then read our About Us page. For instance, Andria Summers is an amazing advocate. She can help you with your Medicare plan. She has also won thousands of SSD and SSI cases. Dianna Cannon has been helping claimants win benefits for thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has years of experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. We are experts. You can trust us to help you receive Social Security benefits for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Also, we help our clients optimize their Medicare benefits. Our specialists can help you apply for disability benefits using the SSA’s website.
Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms you will need to fill out. But, don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, then we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call us for free today.
WE WORK ON A CONTINGENCY FEE BASIS IN YOUR ALS DISABILITY CASE
If you have ALS, you should hire an attorney. You need to win benefits and do it quickly. It is unlikely that you will survive for very long with ALS. Therefore, you need to provide for your family. An attorney can help you win your SSD benefits and do it fast. In order to hire Cannon Disability, all you need to do is contact us. We offer a free consultation over the phone. Furthermore, it doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why?
Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win your SSD case, you pay the attorney fee out of your back benefits. If you do not win, there is no attorney fee to pay.
Additionally, the attorney fee has a cap or a limit. The SSA sets the limit of the attorney fee at 25% of the back benefit or the maximum attorney fee cap. Whatever is less.
If there are costs in your case, then you pay those. But normally those costs are less than $100. Once we win your case, the attorney fee comes from your back benefit. In order to hire most lawyers you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. You don’t have a job. So, the only way to pay us, is for us to win your case. That is our goal. Call and see what we can do for you. Put our experience to work for you and let us represent you in your ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disability case.