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Those with a rare illness may apply for disability benefits


Being diagnosed with a serious illness is always emotionally devastating, but that may be especially true when the illness is a rare one. Treating rare illnesses can be expensive and others may have a hard time understanding the illness. Having the right support system is important for one's well-being, but a person in New York with a rare illness may also need financial help, particularly if their illness is debilitating enough to keep them from being able to work.

When this happens, a person with a rare illness may want to seek Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, in determining whether to approve a person's application for benefits, the person must be deemed "totally and permanently disabled" by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means that the person's illness must last at least 12 month or be fatal. The SSA maintains a listing of medical disorders that may constitute a disability, if certain requirements are met. This listing is known as the "Blue Book."

Certain rare illnesses also may fall under the SSA's "Compassionate Allowances" program. If so, the person's application for disability benefits will be expedited. While normally, it could take months for a person's disability application to be reviewed, those whose illnesses fall under the Compassionate Allowances program could have their application reviewed in a manner of weeks.

In addition, there are other requirements that an applicant for disability benefits must meet. For example, while they were still able to work, and therefore were paying into the Social Security system, they earned a certain amount of credits. The number for credits needed to be approved for disability benefits is based on age and work history.

Life with a rare illness can be difficult. But, help may be available in the form of SSD benefits. Those who are wondering about qualifying SSD benefits for illness may want to work with an attorney, who can advise them throughout the application process.

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

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