Muscular Dystrophy

People who live with a disability may find that they are unable to work due to symptoms and complications associated with their condition. In this instance, social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits can help to make ends meet.

What is Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a term used to refer to a group of diseases that are marked by a weakening in the muscles. These conditions also lead a permanent loss of muscle mass, and the diseases are progressive in nature. Muscular dystrophy cannot be cured, but there are treatment options available to help sufferers manage the pain and to slow the progression of muscle weakness and loss.

Most people who suffer from muscular dystrophy first realize that a problem exists because they experience worsening muscle weakness. There are many types of the disease, but two types are especially prominent.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is more common in males and causes symptoms including frequent falling, difficulty getting up from a sitting position, difficulty running, muscle pain and stiffness in the muscles. Children as young as two may demonstrate these symptoms.

Becker muscular dystrophy typically manifests in the late teens or early 20s. The symptoms of this type of muscular dystrophy are similar to those observed in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Progressive muscle weakness eventually leads to severe complications. Difficulty walking is a common problem with these diseases, and a sufferer will eventually completely lose the ability to walk. Muscle weakness in the respiratory system may make breathing difficult, and some sufferers need to use a respirator to breathe. Weakness in the heart may occur, and people who experience muscle weakness in the throat may need a feeding tube to receive nutrition.

Corticosteroids may be prescribed in order to slow the progression of muscle weakness. Unfortunately, these medications may lead to bone weakness and can increase the risk of fracture. If muscular dystrophy affects the heart, heart medications may be prescribed to lessen the risk of complications.

Physical therapy may be prescribed to help sufferers retain range of motion for as long as possible. Special exercises, stretches and braces are used to achieve this goal.

What is SSDI?

SSDI is a type of insurance program that is paid into by everyone who works in the United States. Paycheck deductions are sent to the federal government in order to fund the program. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is tasked with determining whether applicants qualify for benefits. The organization manages funds, calculates payments and pays out benefits to qualified individuals.

Since SSDI is funded by people who work, applicants must have worked prior to becoming disabled in order to qualify for benefits. Exceptions may be made if a person was born with a disability or became disabled as a child.

Getting SSDI for Muscular Dystrophy

People who suffer from muscular dystrophy may qualify for SSDI benefits under the SSA’s listing for the diseases. However, these individuals must prove that the symptoms and complications outlined in the SSA’s disability listing exist.

Disorganization in muscle function is one of these requirements. This means that an individual is unable to control muscle function in a way that interferes with his or her ability to complete routine tasks like dressing, cooking or cleaning. Symptoms and complications that affect gross motor function may also qualify a person for benefits.

Test results and other medical records are used to determine whether a disability exists. Results from tests including muscle biopsies, genetic tests, MRIs, CT scans, X-rays and nerve conduction studies are essential in proving that a case of muscular dystrophy is severe enough to qualify an individual for SSDI benefits.

Getting Help from an Attorney

Many people who suffer from a disability feel overwhelmed by the SSDI application process. Knowing that the ability to make ends meet rests on the decision of the SSA can be especially stressful. The complicated nature of the SSDI application process may cause undue stress, but there is a way to alleviate the burden. SSDI attorneys are knowledgeable about the SSA’s requirements and are able to help their clients meet these requirements. Working with a legal professional who is experienced in handling SSDI cases improves an applicant’s chances of being approved. To make the process of applying for much-needed benefits more manageable, consult with an attorney.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.