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Rare diseases may qualify for SSDI benefits

The Social Security disability insurance program was designed to assist recipients with disabilities. Persons that were diagnosed with a rare disease who are unable to work or perform daily tasks may be entitled to these SSD benefits.

An applicant must have a total and permanent disability for benefit eligibility. To meet this qualification, the applicant must have a severe physical or mental disorder that is expected to exceed one year or lead to death. The Social Security Administration utilizes a Blue Book that contains listings of approved disorders and qualification requirements. Each disease is listed by disease type and its location in the body.

Sometimes, an applicant may meet eligibility requirements by simply submitting an official diagnosis of certain specific diseases that are disabling conditions by definition. For example, an applicant may qualify by simply submitting a physician's diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral disease or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The SSA's Compassionate Allowances program also provides for expeditious processing of severe disorders applications, so that applicants may receive their benefits more rapidly. Applicants in this program may receive their benefits within one month instead of the three months that an SSDI application normally takes.

However, several technical requirements govern SSDI claims. Applicants must contribute a specified amount of money, known as credits, to Social Security during their working years. A worker may only earn a maximum of four credits each year or one per work quarter. Work credits may also be earned in separate years. Workers over the age of 31 must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the last 10 years. Earning these credits may take time. For example, a 58-year-old applicant for SSDI needs 36 credits. This equals at least 14 and a half years of work.

Applicants for SSDI often face numerous requirements and federal regulations. An attorney can help overcome these obstacles and assure that the applicant's rights are pursued.

Source: Rare Disease Report, "Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits with a Rare Disease," Bryan Mac Murray, Feb. 22, 2017

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