She works to overcome the claims denial by working closely with you and your physician by showing that you:
– Meet the requirements for a disability listing for the complications of Huntington’s disease,
– Proving that your limitations are too great for you to work at your old job or any other job in the national economy in view of your age, education and transferable work skills.
She offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your Social Security disability claim.
What Is Huntington’s Disease and What Are The Disabling Symptoms?
Huntington’s disease causes movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders that vary from person to person, by symptom and severity.
The progression of the disease and these movement, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms must be fully developed in your medical records.
Movement Disorders In Social Security Disability Claims
The movement disorder symptoms include:
1. Involuntary jerking movements and impaired gait and balance, which can make it difficult to walk, sit, and stand,
2. Muscle rigidity, which can make it difficult to use your hands,
3. Slow or abnormal eye movements, which can make it difficult to read or use a computer, and
4. Difficulty speaking, which can make it difficult to interact with other employees and the public.
Cognitive impairments can destroy your ability to perform your occupational duties and interact with others in the workplace.
These can include:
1. Problems organizing, prioritizing and focusing on work tasks,
2. An inability to stay on task and finish work tasks,
3. Difficulty in learning new information, and
4. Slowness in processing thoughts and finding the right words.
Huntington’s can organically cause a lack of impulse control that can result in outbursts in the workplace or a lack of awareness of one’s behavior.
Depression and anxiety are common psychiatric disorders associated with Huntington’s disease and can cause:
1. Social withdrawal,
2. Lack of interest in work,
3. Fatigue and loss of energy,
4. Feelings of irritability, and
5. Thoughts of suicide.
What The SSA Wants to See in Your Medical Records
SSA will review your medical records and look for the following:
– A diagnosis of the Huntington’s disease,
– A detailed description of your symptoms,
– Objective evidence of the physical, sensory and mental changes outlined above,
– Detailed treatment history, including medication, and your response,
– Side effects of medication, and
– Evidence that you have complied with treatment.
Huntington’s Disease and The Listing Of Impairments
There is a listing for Huntington’s disease in the Listing of Impairments; your medical records must establish that you meet every element of the Listing considered disabling.
You must have:
– Involuntary movement or lack of coordination in two extremities that cause significant continued problems with walking or the use of your arms, hands, and fingers,
– Changes in your cognitive abilities, including memory impairments, personality changes, emotional instability or loss of I.Q., that have led to difficulty in two of the following:
1. Performing daily activities,
2. Social functioning,
3. Concentration and persistence, or
4. Avoiding decreases in overall functioning due to decompression.
– A mental disorder that has lasted two years, limited your ability to work, and is managed by a physician through medication or therapy, and one of the following:
1. Repeated significant decreases in functioning due to decompensation,
2. Inability to manage even minimal mental demands, or
3. The need to continue to live in a highly-supportive living situation and having lived in one for at least one year.
If your complications from Huntington’s disease fall under or are equal to a listing, you might be approved for benefits at Step 3 of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation.
If you have Huntington’s disease and another medical impairment, arthritis for example, SSA is required to consider the combined effects of your impairments when determining if your condition is equal to a listing or when doing your RFC analysis at Steps 4 and 5.
What happens if you don’t meet or equal a listing, then SSA determines your entitlement to benefits based on medical and vocational criteria at Steps 4 and 5. Because the listing requirements are difficult to meet, SSA finds that most disability applicants don’t meet a Listing.
When Your Huntington’s Disease Makes It Impossible to Work
If your Huntington’s disease and its complications don’t meet a listing, you will have to prove that you:
– Can’t return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled (PRW), and
– There isn’t any other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity (RFC).
SSA or, ultimately an Administrative Law Judge, will answer those questions by determining your residual functional capacity. Your RFC is what you can do despite your Huntington’s disease.