The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs are notorious for their lengthy review processes and sparse approvals. There are some conditions though that are essentially guaranteed to medically qualify for benefits. Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP) is one of them.
As a disease that causes progressive motor neuron decline, PBP is an inherently disabling condition. The SSA knows this, which is why it’s part of the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. CAL speeds up the review of applications and eases the medical documentation requirements for receiving benefits.
Disability Benefit Programs
The SSA’s disability benefit programs include:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – which pays benefits to eligible disabled workers.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – through which disabled individuals of any age can potentially qualify for benefits, though they must have very limited income and other financial resources.
In addition to these technical eligibility rules, SSDI and SSI require a person meets the medical eligibility rules, but PBP automatically medically qualifies.
The CAL program speeds up the disability review process. It limits the amount and type of medical records required for approval as well. It does not however eliminate the need to submit an application. You must also provide the SSA with appropriate medical records for confirming the PBP diagnosis and the severity level of the disorder.
Required Medical Evidence for Progressive Bulbar Palsy
CAL designation will fast track your application for benefits. It will be pushed through the disability determinations process, with an SSA representative typically working on your claim within just days of submission.
The minimum medical records required for approval include:
- A thorough medical history, including the onset of symptoms, tests completed, medications used, and all other details related to the disorder
- Exam notes, reporting the features of the disorder, including symptoms, their severity level, and their effects on everyday life
- A complete neurological exam, including assessments of coordination, motor and cognitive functions, and balance, among other details
- Brain imaging scan results, documenting the presence of motor neuron decline
In addition to documenting the diagnosis of PBP, medical records must also rule out conditions that can cause similar symptoms and complications, including Myasthenia Gravis and stroke. Neurological exams and brain imaging scans can achieve this.
The SSA limits the required medical records under CAL rules, but they may still look at the Blue Book to finalize medical eligibility decisions. The Blue Book is a manual of impairments and the evidence needed to prove disability with each condition.
There are three listing in the Blue Book that the SSA can use for PBP claims:
- Section 11.06 – to medically equal the listing for Parkinson’s Disease
- Section 11.10 – to match the listing for ALS
- Section 11.17 – to match the listing for degenerative neurological diseases not listed elsewhere
Submitting an Application
Many applicants choose to apply for SSDI online via the SSA’s website because it is convenient, requires no appointment, and allows you to complete the application at whatever pace you need to. The file can be saved and worked on in pieces until it’s done. It can then be submitted electronically, though you should still follow up with the local SSA office to submit copies of your medical records. These can be mailed or dropped off.
An SSI application however must be completed via a personal interview. This usually takes place at the local SSA office. You can apply for both disability programs at the same time, and some applicants find this is simpler.
To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-772-1213. If you suffer from speech impairment due to Progressive Bulbar Palsy, call the SSA’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.