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Can I Work With Meniere’s Disease?

The symptoms of Meniere’s disease are extreme dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), temporary hearing loss, and a heavy or congested feeling in the ear. At times the dizziness caused from Meniere’s disease can be so severe that it can also stimulate nausea, vomiting, and cause sudden falls. It usually affects people later in life, after the age of 40, and is generally experienced in only one ear.

Meniere’s disease is caused by a buildup of fluid in the inner ear; the part of the ear responsible for maintaining our sense of balance. Scientists have no conclusive proof for what triggers the fluid buildup, although one theory suggests it is caused by the same thing that triggers migraine headaches, which is the constriction of blood vessels. However, it is well agreed upon that Meniere’s disease is genetic.

Treatment of Meniere’s disease varies based on the severity. Most often, people with Meniere’s disease will be given prescription drugs to counteract the extreme vertigo it causes. Doctors also recommend reducing one’s intake of salt, using diuretics to eliminate the body’s extra fluids, and restricting items thought to trigger flare ups of the disease, such as caffeine and cigarettes. In more extreme cases where these treatments are not effective, surgery is considered.

Because of the severe nature of the vertigo associated with Meniere’s disease, it can be hazardous for those suffering from it to be in a work environment. The SSA lists Meniere’s disease as one of the conditions considered serious enough to qualify a person for Social Security Disability. Because it appears later in life when you may already be experiencing other impairments, Meniere’s may severely hinder your ability to perform your work tasks. In these situations, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Meniere’s Disease and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work

Due to the severity of the vertigo that is the most noticeable symptom of Meniere’s disease, you may be unable to perform any physical labor. Even light work as defined by the SSA’s guidelines for Social Security Disability applicants requires walking; a function that can become nearly impossible for those suffering with vertigo, whose sense of balance is thrown off by the extra fluid in the inner ear. The risk of falling on the job is no laughing matter, as it may cause other bodily injuries and require your employer to pay out a hefty workman’s compensation claim. Overall, it is much safer if you apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

Other symptoms such as tinnitus and hearing loss can also be a hindrance to performing physical work because of your impaired ability or inability to communicate with those around you.

Meniere’s Disease and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work

Even though sedentary work, defined by the SSA as work that requires sitting for up to six hours a day, may eliminate the risk of collapsing due to vertigo, Meniere’s disease can still make a desk job challenging. Vertigo causes dizziness and confusion; conditions that are not ideal for the need to think and act quickly. Getting in and out of a chair can be dangerous, and communicating on the phone and with others can be difficult due to impaired hearing.

To qualify for Social Security Disability, your symptoms must be severe and frequent enough to exclude you from both of these kinds of work. Meniere’s disease is something that can come on suddenly. It is in your best interest to apply for Social Security Disability sooner than later, as the process is quite lengthy, and if you are unable to work you will be suddenly without income. You should do your best to plan financially, though it may not be easy to do so. As with many other conditions, it can be hard to prove that you qualify for Social Security Disability, as it is likely that prescription medication will lessen the most severe symptoms and still enable you to work. We recommend considering the use of a Social Security Disability Attorney or Advocate to help you with your case, as they will know the best ways to demonstrate your disability.