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The face of progeria and the quest for a cure

We have previously spoken about how disability benefits are not just for adults. Supplemental Security Income benefits can help both adults who are unable to work and children with severe disabilities. There are people throughout Georgia who are otherwise ineligible for disability benefits through Social Security disability insurance because they have never been able to pay into Social Security, so they turn to Supplemental Security Income. These benefits are based purely on disability, not on an individual's work history, which is also the reason why children are eligible.

Moreover, there are certain conditions that the government recognizes as being so severe and so disruptive that they fast-track applications for individuals with the conditions. Known as compassionate allowance, the Social Security Administration knows that if anyone is diagnosed with this condition, he or she will more likely than not need disability benefits and does not want to burden the individual with a long wait to be approved.

One of those conditions is called progeria, a sort of advanced aging condition. The condition is quite rare and one that currently does not have a cure. Children with the condition will age at much faster rates than others, devloping frail bones and other signs of old age.

The normal lifespan for children with progeria is 13 years old, but one teenager has made it all the way to 17 and is being featured in a documentary on HBO. Though the young man is certainly one of the stars of the movie, so are his family members who have dived head first into researching the condition. Their hope is to develop a treatment that will help keep children with progeria alive.

Currently, the 17-year-old is in a medical trial himself, but it is unknown whether there are any tangible results just yet.

Source: WBUR.org, "Documentary Follows Foxborough Family's Search For Progeria Cure," Erin Trahan, Oct. 20, 2013

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