Recently Diagnosed With ALS? Apply For Social Security Disability Through A Lawyer

In 2014, you may have taken what was called The Ice Bucket Challenge. It was a popular challenge done on social media in which a bucket of ice water was dumped on a person's head. Back then, you didn't know that you'd get diagnosed with the very condition that challenge was promoting awareness of — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also called Lou Gehrig's disease.

While getting a diagnosis of ALS may make you feel like your entire world is reeling out of control, one thing that will help is being approved for Social Security Disability. Here's what you need to know if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with ALS. 

ALS Is a Compassionate Allowance Condition

The Social Security Administration has a list of disabilities that, when someone is diagnosed with a medical condition on the list they clearly meet the standards and requirements of being unable to perform any substantial gainful activity. Within this list, there is another list that is called Compassionate Allowance Conditions (CAL), which are medical conditions and diseases that are so detrimental to the quality of life and ability to be gainfully employed that the agency expedites the adjudication process in approving Social Security Disability benefits. 

Due to the progressive nature and severity of the condition, as well as the short life expectancy, you may also be entitled to more benefits than someone who does not have a Compassionate Allowance Condition, such as auxiliary benefits. These additional benefits are to support the spouse and dependents of individuals who receive Social Security Disability. Speak with a disability lawyer for more information on how you can apply for auxiliary benefits in addition to your disability benefits. 

Medical Documentation Must Show ALS

When determining whether or not someone will be approved for Social Security Disability for a condition that is on the Compassionate Allowance Conditions list, the adjudicator must review the medical evidence on record when evaluating the disability claim. The adjudicator is the individual who reviews the documentation and who decides whether to approve or deny the claim's application before it can proceed to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge for a final ruling. The medical evidence of record is generally the medical records from the person's primary care physician and all specialists involved in reaching a diagnosis, such as a neurologist for ALS. 

There isn't a singular test to determine whether or not someone has ALS. It's a diagnosis based on medical history and neurological findings. Therefore, one of the first things your disability lawyer will want to ensure is that your medical records support an irrefutable diagnosis of ALS. That way, the adjudicator will allow the claim of disability. You will need to sign a letter of release so your medical records can be released to your lawyer and their medical evaluator for their review.

Additional Documentation You'll Need 

In addition to the medical documentation showing the validity of a diagnosis of ALS, you'll also need a number of other documents to provide to your disability lawyer so they can apply on your behalf. This list includes documentation such as: 

  • Your Social Security number
  • A list of your employers
  • A summary of your work history
  • Your most recent tax documentation (W-2 or tax return)

If you're applying for auxiliary benefits, you'll also need the Social Security numbers of your spouse and/or dependents as well as proof of marriage. If you do not have the above documents, speak with your disability lawyer to request help in obtaining the documentation you need. They can help you gather the documents you need from various government agencies and vital records offices.