People with Huntington’s disease undergo a fatal genetic disorder – this leads to a progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Although people may develop the disease during early 30s and 40s, the symptoms usually appear in late 50s for most people.
Huntington’s is not only a degenerative disease, it also leads to multiple types of neurological disorders such as impairments in functional movements, cognitive abilities and psychiatric disorders.
When can you get disability benefits for Huntington’s disease?
The symptoms for each person with Huntington’s may vary, thereby affecting their chances to qualify for social security disability. The cognitive symptoms may include an inability to perform daily activities such as toileting or bathing, or symptoms of dementia. Whereas the physical symptoms may include loss of muscle control leading to difficulty breathing, swallowing food or drinking water.
Each person’s symptoms will have varying degrees of severity, hence they would need to qualify the same way under the disability insurance, SSDI requirements as any other disability in the Blue Book.
Meeting an impairment listing
Huntington’s disease can be assessed either under the neurodegenerative diseases or, if the disabling symptoms are all cognitive or mental in nature, under the mental listing for neurocognitive diseases. You must be able to prove to the disability examiner or the ALJ that you meet the disability criteria for any of these symptoms for each of the conditions listed below:
- Inability to control movements of at least two limbs (an arm or a leg, two arms or two legs);
- Critical thinking problems such as difficulty understanding, remembering or applying information;
- Social problems such as interacting with others;
- Concentration problems such as focusing on work or with finishing tasks with speed and persistence;
- Setting realistic goals such as managing oneself;
- Difficulty paying attention to work, tasks or listening to others for long-term;
- Short term memory loss such as learning and memory deficits;
- Difficulty in judgment and planning for tasks, such as inability to turn the car at the signal on time;
- Bad hand-eye coordination;
- Poor social judgment and inability to use proper social behavior;
Reduced Incapacity to Work, RFC
If you don’t meet the above criteria for disability, but have an inability to perform substantial gainful activity to earn for yourself or are unable to learn new things for a job – the Social Security may award you benefits based on your Reduced Incapacity to Work, RFC.
Your psychiatrist may have to fill the RFC forms for you, listing all the ways the Huntington’s disease limits your capacity to work and perform regular tasks.
Also, since the Huntington’s disease is a result of a disorder in genes, it can result into further degenerative, serious diseases. Therefore, the SSA may refer your disability case further under the ‘compassionate allowance’ to provide you additional benefits.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Huntington’s, you may consult a disability attorney for legal help and paperwork for your disability benefits.