May is Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month, which is a time when advocacy and support groups throughout the world raise awareness about the condition.
Huntington’s Disease (HD) is often compared to having the symptoms of ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s all at once, which makes it a devastating disease. It impairs a person’s ability to think, talk and walk.
There is also no cure for HD and it is considered a fatal genetic disorder.
The effects of HD
HD affects the brain and, specifically, the nerve cells in the brain. It causes the nerve cells to progressively break down, which diminishes a person’s physical and mental abilities. The symptoms of the disease can progress gradually or all at once, but the younger a person is diagnosed, the faster the disease typically progresses.
The disease often progresses until the sufferer passes away due to complications such as pneumonia or heart failure. People with HD typically live 10 to 20 years after being clinically diagnosed, although some go on to live much longer.
How is HD inherited?
HD is easily passed down from parent to child. Every child with a parent who has HD has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the expanded gene that causes it. Every child who inherits the expanded HD gene will eventually develop the disease.
Read more about HD and its symptoms here.
Financial support for those with HD
Usually, the symptoms appear when a person is middle-aged, between the ages of 30 and 50. This is right in the middle of a person’s main working years, which can cause serious financial problems in addition to the health problems.
Social Security Disability benefits are often available to people suffering from HD, so long as they can meet the Social Security Administration’s disability requirements.
Because HD can be so severe, it qualifies under the SSA’s compassionate allowance program, which can expedite the application process.