Can You Qualify for Disability with a Rare Condition in Arkansas?


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When the Social Security Administration’s claims examiners review applications for disability benefits, they refer to a document called the “Blue Book,” or Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments is precisely what it sounds like: a catalog of medical issues that can qualify you for assistance.  While the Listing is quite extensive, it obviously does not cover every possible condition in existence.  So what happens if you have a rare disease which isn’t included in the Blue Book?  Can you still be approved for disability?

Qualifying for Disability with Compassionate Allowances (CAL)

While fairly comprehensive, the SSA’s official Listing of Impairments tends to stick to the basics. You can easily find information related to common conditions like arthritis, asthma, or diabetes — but what if your condition is uncommon?  What if your disability is so rare that it simply doesn’t appear in the Listing of Impairments?  Are you out of luck?

Fortunately, the answer is no.  You may be able to qualify via the compassionate allowances (CAL) route.

Claims processing can take months at best, and years at worst.  The purpose of CAL is to prioritize extremely severe cases, so that claimants with the greatest need receive expedited assistance.  Many rare illnesses have a CAL classification, as the lack of ready medical familiarity could otherwise create debilitating or even deadly delays.

The National Organization for Rare Disorders, or NORD, works together with the SSA to help augment the existing list of CAL disabilities.  A statement from NORD’s website says, “The rare disease community remains hopeful that the compassionate allowances program will be expanded to include every rare disease that prohibits substantial gainful activity. NORD will continue to support those hopes and work with our allies until this goal is accomplished.”

Uncommon Conditions That Can Qualify You for Benefits

The CAL list grows all the time.  At the time of this writing, the list already includes several hundred conditions, many of which are uncommon.

Some of the new CAL disabilities recently added to the official list include:

  • Coffin-Lowry Syndrome
  • Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
  • Joubert Syndrome
  • Marshall-Smith Syndrome
  • Pallister-Killian Syndrome
  • Revesz Syndrome
  • Seckel Syndrome

These are just a few of the latest additions.  Other uncommon illnesses which can qualify you for benefits through the CAL program include:

  • Alexander Disease
  • Alstrom Syndrome
  • Cornelia de Lange Syndrome
  • Degos Disease (Systemic)
  • DeSanctis Cacchione Syndrome
  • Eisenmenger Syndrome
  • Erdheim Chester Disease
  • Gaucher Disease (Type 2)
  • Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Infantile Free Sialic Acid Storage Disease
  • Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD)
  • Ohtahara Syndrome
  • Schindler Disease (Type 1)
  • Walker Warburg Syndrome
  • Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome

You can view the complete list of CAL conditions here.

If you or someone you love is living with a rare or uncommon medical condition, your claim could be approved through the CAL program.  Unfortunately, qualifying for monthly benefits is an enormous challenge.  In 2011, the average approval rate in Arkansas was a dismal 30.3% — meaning roughly two thirds of applicants will be turned away.

An experienced Arkansas disability lawyer can help increase your chances of success.  To schedule your free and confidential case evaluation, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak right away at (479) 251-7767.  You can also contact us online.

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