MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY & SSD BENEFITS
WHAT IS MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY?
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is the name for a group of genetic disorders that progressively weakens muscle fibers. While there are several types of muscular dystrophy, they all share the common symptom of muscle dysfunction. The symptoms of the disease and the muscles that are affected vary depending on the specific type of muscular dystrophy.
Muscular dystrophy starts with abnormal genes which cause the muscles to break down. Usually the disease begins in childhood. Duchenne muscular dystrophy, for example, is one of the more common types of the disease. It is found in almost 1 in 5,000 male babies. For example, with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (DMD), the first signs are usually noticed by a parent around the age of 2 to 3 years old. Once the child is taken to the doctor, a muscle biopsy test or DNA test is done. The doctor can then diagnose the disease from those tests.
The CDC does not know how many people in the United States have MD. However, they are gathering information throughout the country to gain an understanding of the disease. It is difficult to collect the information, because the number of people who have the disease depends upon the type of muscular dystrophy.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
There are several types of muscular dystrophy, each with its own distinct symptoms, genetic causes, and patterns of muscle involvement. Here are some of the main types:
DUCHENNE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY (DMD)
DMD is triggered by mutations in the dystrophin gene found on the X chromosome. Dystrophin is a protein that is vital to maintain muscle cell structure and function. When the dystrophin gene mutates, it leads to muscle degeneration, weakness, and the onset of DMD symptoms.
Rapid muscle degeneration and weakness, often leading to loss of walking ability by the age of 12. Other symptoms that are common are scoliosis. Additionally, some may also have intellectual disability.
While there is no cure for DMD, various treatments are helping to manage the symptoms. For example, treatment includes physical therapy, respiratory support, and medications. Additionally, medical research continues to explore new treatments that target the genetic cause of DMD.
BECKER MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY (BMD)
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) is a less severe form of muscular dystrophy. Like DMD, BMD is also caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene that effect muscle function. However, those with BMD usually have a milder progression of symptoms and a later onset of the disease.
Additionally, unlike DMD, those with BMD may maintain their ability to walk into their 20s or beyond. While muscle weakness and degeneration are common symptoms, the symptoms may not be as severe as DMD.
Like to DMD, there is no cure for BMD. However, treatment focuses on a better quality of life through physical therapy and assistive devices.
Myotonic Dystrophy (DM) is a complex genetic disorder where the person with the disease has muscle weakness and prolonged muscle contractions.
There are two main types: Type 1 (DM1) and Type 2 (DM2). DM1 is caused by an expanded CTG repeat in the DMPK gene. While DM2 has an expanded CCTG repeat in the CNBP gene.
The symptoms of myotonic dystrophy are diverse. They include muscle symptoms. But, it also effects various organs and body systems, including the heart, eyes, and endocrine glands. People with DM may experience myotonia, muscle wasting, cataracts, cardiac issues, and cognitive disorders.
The age of onset and the symptoms are different for everyone, even within the same family. While there is currently no cure for myotonic dystrophy, doctors do try to manage symptoms and address specific complications such as cardiac or respiratory problems.
FACIOSCAPULOHUMERAL MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY (FSHD)
Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD) is a form of muscular dystrophy with symptoms of progressive muscle weakness and wasting. It primarily affects the muscles of the face, shoulders, and upper arms.
FSHD is linked to a genetic mutation on chromosome 4, leading to the abnormal expression of the DUX4 gene. Unlike other muscular dystrophies, FSHD has clinical features and the age of onset ranges from childhood to adulthood.
Those with FSHD often have weak facial muscles. This results in a distinct appearance with a reduced ability to smile or completely close the eyes. The progression of muscle weakness extends to the shoulder and upper arm muscles. This makes everyday activities difficult.
While FSHD is generally not life threatening, it can affect your quality of life. Currently, there is no cure for FSHD. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms through physical therapy and other supportive measures.
LIMB-GIRDLE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY (LGMD)
Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD) is a diverse group of rare genetic disorders that all have progressive muscle weakness and atrophy, mostly in the pelvic and shoulder girdles. Unlike some other forms of muscular dystrophy, LGMD has various subtypes that are each associated with distinct genetic mutations.
The onset of symptoms can occur at any age. LGMD often presents challenges in mobility, as it impacts the muscles that control the hips, thighs, shoulders, and upper arms. As a result, those with LGMD may face problems walking, climbing stairs, or lifting objects.
The complexity of LGMD lies in the fact that there are over 30 subtypes identified to date. While there is currently no cure for LGMD, treatment addresses symptoms through physical therapy and orthopedic treatment. Also, advances in genetic research offer hope for targeted therapy in the future.
CONGENITAL MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY (CMD)
Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (CMD) is a group of disorders with muscle weakness and atrophy that is present from birth or shortly after birth. Unlike some other forms of MD, CMD has a spectrum of subtypes, each with specific genetic mutations affecting proteins crucial for muscle structure and function.
Because there are so many types of CMD, the symptoms vary widely. For example, some people have skeletal symptoms and some have problems with their cardiac muscles. Common features include delayed motor development, joint deformity, and respiratory issues.
Additionally, those with CMD may face challenges learning basic movements at the proper time. For example, the person may have problems with sitting, standing, or walking. Given the early onset of symptoms, the disease is often found in infancy or early childhood.
While there is currently no cure for CMD, medical management focuses on supportive care. Most people with this form of MD get physical therapy and respiratory support to help their symptoms. Continued research into the genetic basis of CMD holds promise for developing future treatment.
EMERY-DREIFUSS MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY (EDMD)
Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy (EDMD) is a rare genetic disorder that has a triad of symptoms: early onset joint contractures, progressive muscle weakness, and cardiac problems. This disorder is often caused by mutations in the LMNA gene which affects the proteins that maintain the structure of the cell nucleus.
EDMD usually occurs in childhood. The symptoms are joint contractures, especially in the elbows, ankles, and neck. These limit your range of motion. Muscle weakness, especially in the upper arms and lower legs, contributes to motor problems.
Additionally, those with EDMD are at an increased risk of cardiac problems, which can be life threatening. Management of EDMD involves physical therapy to address muscle weakness and joint contractures and cardiac monitoring to manage potential heart issues. While there is currently no cure for EDMD, there is ongoing research into what causes it.
These descriptions provide a general understanding. However, it is important to note that each type of muscular dystrophy is different. Therefore, genetic testing is important for an accurate diagnosis and medical treatment.
COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCE FOR MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
SSA’S Compassionate Allowance program allows people with certain conditions to have a quicker SSD review process. In the case of muscular dystrophy, there are three diagnoses that qualify for this process and all of them present at birth. These three types of severe MD are:
- Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
- Merosin Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
- Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
Whether you have a rare form of MD, like those above, or any of the other types of MD, it cannot be cured. But, there are treatment options available to help you manage the pain and slow the muscle weakness and loss. For example, steroids may be given to you to slow the progression of muscle weakness. Unfortunately, these medications may lead to bone weakness and can increase the risk of bone fracture. If MD affects the heart, medications may be given to lessen the risk of heart problems. Seek treatment from a doctor who is an expert.
THE TWO TYPES OF SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
There are two types of Social Security benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can file an application online at the Social Security’s website for either one or both. Below, you can find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for:
SSDI benefits are for those who can no longer work due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits is based on the taxes you paid during your working years. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits at the time you apply, then you will only be able to file for SSI benefits.
SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for only those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income and assets.
If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. The same applies if you are living with a boyfriend and he is paying your bills. You cannot get SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.
SSA’S LISTING 11.13 FOR MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
There are several ways for the SSA to award you Social Security benefits for muscular dystrophy. First, you may qualify for monthly SSDI and SSI benefits if you meet listing 11.13 in SSA’s blue book. In order to meet a listing, you must have proof of every element on the list. Second, you may be paid benefits if you “equal” the listing. For example, this requires you to have two or more medical conditions that when combined are as severe as if you met the listing.
Below is listing 11.13. Your medical records must show that you have each of the elements on the list in order for the SSA to pay you benefits. Additionally, you must also not be able to work due to your disease for over one year.
11.13 Muscular dystrophy with either A or B:
A. 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.
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSD BENEFITS
You do not need to try to win SSD benefits by yourself. We can help file your SSD application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork and forms you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request an appeal if you receive a denial from DDS
- Help you confirm your SSA doctor exam
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your ALJ hearing
- Represent you at your SSD hearing and question the expert witnesses
- Read more about job expert testimony
- Learn more about medical expert testimony
- Request review of an SSA decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Try not to take that long to finish it. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you need help to file your application, we will help you.
IS IT WORTH THE ATTORNEY FEE TO HIRE AN SSD LAWYER?
It isn’t easy to get Social Security benefits. Also, the application process can be frustrating for most people. But, having an attorney throughout the appeal process can make it easier. It is our belief that when you have a law firm with experience handling your Social Security case, the SSA makes sure that they follow their own procedures.
Additionally, when you have an attorney with legal experience, they will have access to Social Security’s decisions throughout the process. They can also submit medical evidence that may be missing from your case.
There is evidence that hiring an attorney with the proper legal experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%. It is also smart to hire an attorney to help you at your hearing. After all, you are the star witness at your hearing. If you hire an attorney with experience, then they can prepare you to be a good witness. Learn more about how to prepare for your SSD hearing.
HOW WILL YOU PAY THE ATTORNEY FEE?
We use our legal skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make the appeal process easier for you.
It also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. If we win, then the SSA pays us out of your back benefits. Learn more about past due benefits. If you do not win, then you do not pay an attorney fee.
How much is the attorney fee? The attorney fee is whatever is less between 25% of your back benefit and the fee cap of $7200. This is best understood through an example. If your back benefit is $10,000, then your attorney fee would be $2500.
However, if your back benefit is $100,000, you would not pay 25% or $25,000 in attorney fees. Instead, you would pay the amount of the fee cap. The attorney fee is capped at $7200. Therefore, if you win your case, then you will not pay more than the $7200 amount.
Regardless, you pay whatever is less between 25% of your back benefit and the fee cap. Additionally, you only owe an attorney fee if we win your case. Find out more here about what it will cost.
HOW MUCH IS THE MONTHLY SSD PAYMENT?
The monthly amount of your SSD payment for muscular dystrophy or any medical condition is different for every person. The SSA arrives at your monthly amount of benefits by looking at your work history. Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and how many years you have worked, the SSA will determine your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).
In order to qualify for benefits on your own work record, you will need to have 40 quarters of coverage. Or, you need to have worked for 10 years. Those quarters don’t have to occur in a row. For example, you may not work for one quarter because of illness. Or, perhaps there was some other reason for not working. For example, an ill spouse or child. Perhaps, you didn’t work for one quarter due to pregnancy. As long as too much time without working doesn’t go buy, your quarters of coverage will still count.
Once you return to full time work, then you will be earning quarters of coverage. Covered work means a job where the employer is paying Social Security payroll taxes. And, the employer is taking out “FICA contributions.”
Your SSD benefit depends on how much money you earn. If you are a high earner, then your monthly benefit may be $2000. Likewise, if you are a low wage earner, then you monthly benefit will be low. Perhaps around $500. It all depends on how much money you earn while working. The average SSD benefit ranges from $1100 to $1600 a month.
WE CAN WIN YOUR MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY SSD BENEFITS
You need an attorney with experience to represent you in court. Find out here what medical evidence you need to submit to the court win your SSD hearing.
At our law firm, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases. We have the experience that you need to win your SSD and SSI benefits for muscular dystrophy. If you need a lawyer at your hearing, then contact Cannon Disability Law. Put our experience to work for you.
If you want to learn more about the lawyers and staff at our law firm, then go to our About Us page. For example, Andria Summers can help you prepare for your hearing. She has also won thousands of Social Security cases. Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefit for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has years of legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits.
In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our lawyers and staff can help you apply for SSD benefits. Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms. Call us for free today. Talk to us about how your muscular dystrophy is keeping you from working. Then, let us help you win SSDI and SSI benefits.