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What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Ataxia Disability Benefits?

  • Published: July 11, 2019

Ataxia is a condition that affects voluntary muscle movements such as walking, speech, eye movement, and swallowing. Ataxia is usually caused by damage to the cerebellum from brain trauma, stroke, cerebral palsy, encephalitis, or other brain infections. Severe cases of ataxia can make it impossible to work and may make day-to-day living very difficult.

Not everyone with the condition will be eligible for ataxia disability benefits, but an experienced LTD attorney at CJ Henry Law Firm PLLC can assist you in determining your eligibility and can help you file a claim with your insurance company.

What Is Ataxia?

Generally speaking, ataxia is defined as a loss of the ability to control voluntary muscle movements including walking, speaking, eye movement, and swallowing. There are several types of ataxia all of which are related to damage to or deterioration of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination and ataxia may be brought on by traumatic brain injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, brain infections, or a tumor. The two main types of ataxia are acute and hereditary.

Acute Ataxia

Usually has a quick onset caused by brain injury, stroke, or other serious health condition. Acute ataxia may also be a side effect or complication as a result of another disease such as encephalitis, cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis.

Hereditary Ataxia

A rare genetic condition which may manifest itself in people as young as 18 months and as old as 30 and progresses over many years. The majority of cases of hereditary ataxia occur before age 20. Genetic ataxia can be passed from a parent with a dominant gene or both parents with a recessive gene. Parents may not have the disorder or display symptoms and simply carry the gene. Types of hereditary ataxia include:

Autosomal Recessive Ataxias (ARCA)

A group of neurological disorders resulting from abnormal development of the cerebellum and spinal cord.

Friedreich’s Ataxia

Results from damage to the cerebellum, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves and over time may cause serious conditions such as heart disease. This type of ataxia typically manifests itself between ages 5 and 15 and progresses over the years. Individuals with Friedreich’s ataxia are likely to need a wheelchair within 15 years of the onset.

Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Caused by mutation of specific genes and has specific symptoms and age of onset. Cerebellar ataxia and cerebellar degeneration account for the majority of spinocerebellar cases of ataxia.

Episodic Ataxia

Recurring episodes rather than a progressive worsening of the disease and may last from a few seconds to several hours. Stress is a common trigger for episodic ataxia.

Common Symptoms of Ataxia

The various types of ataxia may involve specific symptoms but the following signs are the most common.

  • Difficulty walking or eating
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Involuntary rapid eye movements
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle deterioration or wasting (Friedreich’s ataxia)

Eligibility for Long-Term Disability Benefits

Having ataxia does not automatically qualify you for long-term disability benefits although the symptoms of ataxia may make it difficult to impossible for you to perform your work. Before you file a claim, read your insurance policy carefully and look for exclusions, how the insurance company defines disability, and information on self-reported diseases or conditions. One of the challenges of receiving disability benefits for ataxia stems from the fact there is no specific objective test that will confirm the condition. Here are valuable steps you can take to improve your chances of qualifying for long-term disability benefits.

  • Talk to your physician and review your medical records and diagnosis. Confirm that your records are up-to-date, complete, and correct. Include information about any treatment you have received for ataxia.
  • Review your personnel file at work or consult with your supervisor about ways your condition may have or may be impacting your ability to work. Ask for a job description that describes the duties required for your job.
  • Share your job description with your doctor and ask him or her to write a report that details how your condition prevents you from doing your job. He or she should include objective information that applies to your diagnosis, any restrictions and limitations you have, and how specific symptoms affect your work.
  • Keep a diary or prepare a video explaining how your life is affected in and out of work as a result of ataxia. Give examples of how the symptoms affect your ability to care for yourself and others.
  • Obtain any available test results or reports from other health care professionals you have worked with.

Improve Your Chances of Receiving Ataxia Disability Benefits

At CJ Henry Law Firm LLC we can you prepare and submit your claim for ataxia disability benefits.

Claudeth Henry

Attorney Henry is a Florida disability lawyer Florida disability lawyer uniquely suited to help you
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