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Syringomyelia and Social Security Disability

Back injuries can be anything from mild to severe in nature. Some individuals suffer a back injury with little to no effects, while others will suffer endlessly due to the symptoms they experience. Individuals who are diagnosed with syringomyelia are oftentimes unable to work as a result of the injury that led to the disorder. If you or someone you know has been suffering from syringomyelia and are unable to work, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may offset some of the financial stress caused by the resulting lack of income. If you would like to know how syringomyelia qualifies an individual for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and how the SSA reviews Social Security Disability claims based on this medical condition, the following information will shed light on the topic.

Syringomyelia - Condition and Symptoms

Syringomyelia is a condition that results in a fluid-filled area within the spinal cord. This fluid build-up can develop due to injury to the spinal cord, birth defects or tumors of the spinal cord. The fluid-filled area usually develops in the neck and then slowly begins expanding, putting pressure on the spinal cord and causing spinal damage.

The symptoms of syringomyelia can vary depending on the extent of the condition and how far the condition has progressed. Some individuals who suffer from syringomyelia may suffer few if any symptoms at all. Others may experience progressively severe symptoms that include a gradual loss of muscle mass, chronic headaches, loss of muscle function, numbness, decreased sense of pain, decreased sense of touch, upper back pain, pain in the arms and neck, chronic weakness, muscle contractions, rashes, muscle spasms or uncoordinated movement.

Unfortunately there is no cure for syringomyelia. Treatment involves preventing additional damage to the spinal cord and maximizing muscular function. In some cases, it may be necessary to drain the fluid build-up in the spine with ventriculoperitoneal shunting.

It is not hard to understand why many of the individuals who suffer from syringomyelia are unable to perform substantial gainful activity. If your condition has been preventing you from maintaining employment, you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits to offset some of the financial burden caused by the condition.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Syringomyelia

Syringomyelia is included in the SSA's Blue Book of disabling conditions under Medical Listing 11.19. According to this listing, a patient will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if they are suffering from a case of syringomyelia that meets certain qualifying criteria. A diagnosis of the condition itself is not enough to qualify you for the benefits you may need. You must be able to prove that your condition has resulted in significant bulbar signs or disorganization of motor function as described in Section 11.04B of the SSA's Medical Listings. Section 11.04B goes on to state that an individual will qualify for benefits if he or she experiences “significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.”

When filing your claim for Social Security Disability benefits, you will want to ensure that you include a complete copy of your medical records, furnishing proof that your specific case of syringomyelia meets the above-mentioned medical criteria. If your specific case of syringomyelia does not meet these guidelines, you may still be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits but you will likely need to do so through the process of a disability appeal. You should still, however, include complete copies of your medical records with your claim for Social Security Disability benefits and answer the questions on the residual functional capacity forms with detailed and thorough answers in order to increase your chance of approval at the initial stage of the application process.

Syringomyelia and Your Social Security Disability Case

It is important to note that nearly 70 percent of the disability claims received each year are denied by the SSA during the initial stage of the application process. If your case of syringomyelia does not meet the specific guidelines that have been set forth by the SSA or your initial application does not prove beyond a doubt that you are unable to perform any type of work activity, you will likely be denied benefits during the initial application stage. This will result in the need for a disability appeal.

If you do need to file for Social Security Disability benefits, it is crucial that you consult with a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer. Your attorney will understand the ins and outs of the process and what evidence you will need in order to prove your case to the SSA. The professional you hire will also be able to represent you at your disability hearing, increasing your chances of a favorable disability hearing outcome. Statistics show that applicants who retain legal representation during are more likely to be awarded benefits than those who try to represent themselves.