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International Rare Disease Day is February 28

Many diseases are common and strike tens of millions of people; the common cold and the flu are among the most prevalent. At the other end of the spectrum are rare diseases, a disease so unusual that if you suffer from one of them and you are asked what is wrong, invariably, you receive a blank stare. If you are left disabled by the condition, you may face a difficult challenge when applying for benefits, like Social Security disability benefits (SSDI).

The most surprising feature about rare diseases is that they may not be all that rare. These are not diseases that strike five or even a couple hundred people, but hundreds of thousands. The federal Orphan Drug Act defines “rare” as fewer than 200,000. In Ohio, that means every resident of Akron or two-thirds of the population of Cincinnati could have the disease and it could qualify as rare.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), one in ten Americans suffers from some type of a rare disorder, or 30 million people. If you are unable to work because of a rare disorder, you may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits, which may be essential for your economic health.

Some of these rare disorders may be included in the list of Compassionate Allowances, a part of the SSDI program that identifies medical conditions that SSA recognizes and if your disorder is covered by a Compassionate Allowance, it allows you to receive your benefits more quickly.

Even if your disorder is not included in the Compassionate Allowances, if you can demonstrate by medical evidence the disabling condition, you may still be able to qualify for benefits. If you have questions, contact a knowledgeable Ohio SSDI attorney for assistance with your application.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “FDA Marks Rare Disease Day 2013,” February 14, 2013

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