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Young Onset Parkinson's and SSD

A November 16 conference, Midwest Young Onset Parkinson's Conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio, reminds us that Parkinson's disease is not limited to older people. Although the average age of onset is 62, some people under 50 develop disease symptoms as well. The course of the disease is different, but the disabling nature of the illness whatever the age of onset is undisputed.

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a neurologic disorder characterized by stiffness of the limbs and trunk, slowness of movement, impaired balance and coordination, cognitive changes, swallowing and breathing problems and problems with sleep and elimination. An unknown number of people in the United States - somewhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million - live with PD.

Young onset PD is generally thought to be genetic, as are all types of Parkinson's disease. In short, if there is a family history of young onset Parkinson's, individuals have a better chance of experiencing the same diagnosis before age 50.

Most people who experience significant disability because of Parkinson's Disease never face issues related to working - they are already retired. However, people who develop young onset Parkinson's are more likely to still be working - in fact, they may be at the peak of their careers. As a result, they are far more likely to need Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits than older individuals who develop PD symptoms.

Qualifying for SSD benefits with Parkinson's can be tricky. You will need to show that you are unable to work because of PD symptoms and that this inability will last at least 12 months. Applicants will need to document that they have tremor in two extremities that result in sustained disturbance of dross and dexterous movements, or in gait or station. The SSD eligibility criteria do not include common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, such as problems with speech and swallowing, dementia, sleep disturbance, and mental or emotional problems.

Because the SSA does not recognize all aspects of the disease as disabling conditions, it is particularly important that people with young onset Parkinson's Disease obtain help with their SSD applications. Many turn to advocates like those at Binder & Binder, America's most successful SSD advocates. We have helped thousands of clients navigate the Social Security Disability application process. Learn how we can help you, too.

Sources: Parkinson's Action Network, "Disability Insurance," Broadcast Newsroom, "Midwest Young Onset Parkinson Conference in Cincinnati, Nov. 16-17."

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