Caudal Regression Syndrome is a birth defect in which the lower portion of the spinal chord does not develop properly. In some cases, this section of the spinal chord, called the caudal end, does not develop at all. Caudal Regression Syndrome is considered rare, occurring in roughly one in 25,000 births.
In mild cases, there may be no symptoms at all, or the symptoms may be mild enough to allow someone with caudal regression syndrome to live a reasonably normal life. In more severe cases, people with Caudal Regression Syndrome may experience great difficulties in their day to day activities, and may find it impossible to maintain gainful employment.
Some infants born with caudal regression syndrome perish in infancy. Most of those who survive need surgery to repair affected bodily functions, and even in those cases, impairments may not be completely corrected.
Symptoms of caudal regression syndrome vary widely, but the more common symptoms include:
- Nerve impairment
- Skeletal deformities
- Urinary tract impairments
- Intestinal problems
- Heart problems
- Respiratory System Impairments
- Incontinence (lack of control of urination and/or defecation)
- Leg/knee deformities sometimes requiring amputation at the knee
One person suffering from caudal regression syndrome may have a completely different set of impairments and abnormalities than another. Any combination of the listed impairments and a number or less common impairments is possible. Some of these impairments, especially if they are severe, can make it difficult of impossible to perform meaningful work.
The SSA does not list caudal regression syndrome specifically as a debilitating condition, but it does briefly mention it under the subheading dealing with birth defects in general as a condition which can cause impairments. Because of this, there are no specific measurable standards given by which the SSA can determine whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based solely on causal regression syndrome.
This does not mean that you won’t qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. What it does mean is that you will need to be medically diagnosed and you will need to show that your symptoms make it impossible for you to perform meaningful work. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney, particularly one who has experience working with birth defect cases, can be invaluable in helping you put your claim and (if needed) appeals together.
Caudal Regression Syndrome and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
Some symptoms of caudal regression syndrome make it impossible to perform physical work. Those who have had legs amputated will have little trouble convincing the SSA that they can’t perform physical work, and often face an easier path to qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.
Whether you are an amputee or not, though, you will want to make sure that your application for Social Security Disability benefits includes all physical restrictions placed on you by your doctor in regards to your ability to stand for long periods, sit for long periods, lift, push, pull, walk, bend, kneel, or perform other basic physical movements and tasks.
Additionally, heart impairments, respiratory impairments, and incontinence may qualify you as completely disabled according to Social Security Disability standards, if the conditions are severe enough. Make sure every related symptom and its affect on your daily life and ability to perform work are thoroughly documented and that your physician’s documentation backs you up.
Caudal Regression Syndrome and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work
Some who suffer the more severe symptoms of caudal regression syndrome will find it impossible to perform even sedentary work. To qualify for Social Security Disability, you must show that you are not capable of performing even sit down jobs for which you could reasonably be trained.
Many of the symptoms of caudal regression syndrome, notably incontinence, heart problems, nerve impairment, and skeletal deformities may make it difficult to sit in one place for extended periods of time (one of the main requirements of sedentary employment). Make sure that your application for Social Security Disability benefits includes thorough information regarding any conditions which make it difficult for you to sit in one place or concentrate on tasks for long periods of time. In such situations, consulting a Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate mayeb in your best interest.