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Angelman syndrome, one of many listed on Compassionate Allowance

As we have mentioned before on this blog, proving that you have a legitimate need for disability benefits can be a difficult challenge. That's because, the Social Security Administration has established a series of strict guidelines for the application process that requires people to not only demonstrate that they have a disability but that they have a need for financial support as well.

These strict requirements slow down the screening process though and may cause legitimate claims to fall through the cracks. That's why in 2008, the SSA created the Compassionate Allowance list. Some of our New York readers may already be familiar with the list, as we have talked about it before on this blog.

For those unfamiliar with it, the list contains a growing number of conditions that meet the SSA definition of disability. Applications listing one or more of these conditions are automatically fast tracked and have a better chance of leading to benefits.

One such condition found on the list is Angelman syndrome. First noted in 1965 by an English physician by the name of Dr. Harry Angelman, AS is a "rare genetic neurological disorder" in which a microdeletion on the maternally derived number 15 chromosome causes patients to experience intellectual disability, developmental delays, stiff and jerky movements, and severe speech impairment.

Unlike other neurological disorders that may share the same symptoms, AS patients are distinctively different because of their easily excitable personalities and the fact that they excessively smile and laugh.

At or around the age of three, AS patients generally start having seizures that can progress into adulthood. Although seizure severity does decrease as a person gets older, they will most likely require medication or other treatments throughout their life.

Because AS is listed as a Compassionate Allowance, applicants have a better chance of having their application expedited and may also have a better chance of receiving disability benefits in the end. It's worth pointing out, however, that even though more pediatricians are becoming familiar with this condition, it is still quite rare and may not be diagnosed right away.

This is something our readers should keep in mind, especially because a diagnosis from a medical professional is necessary in order to receive benefits.

The Angelman Syndrome Foundation, "Facts About Angelman Syndrome," Jan. 1, 2009, 7th Edition

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