If you suffer from Meniere’s Disease, you may not be able to work. If you are unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. If you have earned enough credits and paid in enough taxes to the SSA. If you are approved for benefits, you may have dependents who are also eligible to get benefits as well.
Meniere’s Disease is caused by fluid buildup in the inner ear, which is the part that is responsible for maintaining sense of balance. While there is not any conclusive proof of the cause, the theory is that it is caused by the same thing that causes migraines, which is blood vessel constriction. Usually Meniere’s Disease is only experienced in one ear and usually impacts people later in life who are older than 40 years of age.
The dizziness experience can be so severe it can cause sudden falls, nausea, and vomiting. It can cause temporary hearing loss or a feeling of heavy congestion in the ear. A genetic disorder, the treatment is dependent upon the severity of the disease. Most often you will be given prescription drugs to counteract the extreme vertigo. Doctors will also recommend that you decrease your salt intake and you may have to use diuretics to eliminate the extra fluids in the body, and restrict items that are believed to cause disease flare ups, such as cigarettes and caffeine. Surgery is considered in the more extreme cases.
Because of the severity of the vertigo that you suffer from Meniere’s Disease, you may be in danger in a work environment. It can cause you to lose balance, fall, stagger, and even fall suddenly. The continuous ringing in the ear and dizziness can also be very stressful and impact your ability to function normally. Your ability to perform work duties can be hindered significantly.
The Cost of Treating Meniere’s Disease
According to Dizziness-and-balance.com, most people with Meniere’s Disease have co-pays and coinsurance for doctor visits and prescriptions. Surgical procedures vary from $3,500 to $7,500. You can expect to pay out $500 to $1,800 for the average treatment processes for Meniere’s Disease. Meniere’s Disease usually occurs at a time in life when you may already have other health problems, which in turn may make it worse.
The SSA Evaluation and Medical Qualifications
The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, which lists the specific criteria that must be me in order to qualify for SSDI benefits. Because of the severity of the vertigo experienced with Meniere’s Disease it is listed in the Blue Book of impairments. Because of the severity of the dizziness with the disease, other hindrances can be your impaired ability to communicate because of the disease.
Meniere’s Disease is a “disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function” which is under listing 2.07. If your condition meets the criteria set forth in the Blue Book, you may automatically be approved for SSDI. Here are the requirements that must be met:
- Frequent episodes of vertigo
- Gradual ongoing loss of hearing, shown by pure tone and speech audiometry, AND
- Caloric or other vestibular tests showing disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth.
A caloric stimulation test involves pouring cold and warm water into the ear canal. When the inner ear comes into contact with cold water the eyes should move away from the cold water then go back to their original position slowly. When the inner ear gets into contact with warm water the eyes should move toward the warm water then go back to their original position slowly. There are other tests that include the rotational chair test, posturography, and the fistula test.
To qualify for disability, the disease must last or be expected to last at least a year. Meniere’s Disease may have sudden onset of symptoms and then move into remission. In order to prove your disability, you need to provide as much documentation as possible to prove your condition and its severity.
Meeting Disability Criteria with an RFC
If your Meniere’s Disease does not meet the requirements of the listing, you can still qualify for benefits by using the medical-vocational allowance and a residual functioning capacity assessment (RFC) which will show your limitations and how you are unable to work. As an example, because of your dizziness you may not be able to stand more than an hour at a time. Your nausea and vomiting may require you to reposition every couple of hours.
Provide as much documentation as possible to back up your claim and ask your doctor to complete a RFC to confirm your limitations and the severity of your symptoms. If you have other medical conditions those should be taken into consideration as well. If your hearing is impacted so severely you cannot communicate well with coworkers and clients that should also be indicated on the RFC.
Because the symptoms can be sudden, your doctor may restrict you from working jobs that involve heights and that should be included on your RFC. All of your medical test results should be provided and you should provide extensive documentation and physician notes to back your claim.
Your age, educational background, work experience, and transferable skills are also considered. The SSA Disability Determination Services will check to see if you are able to perform some other kind of work, such as light duty or sedentary work.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Case
The SSA may order a consultative examination with a physician at their expense. This is to confirm the severity of your condition and its symptoms. This is used for informational purposes only. In some cases, a mental evaluation may be ordered to see if you are experiencing stress, depression, or anxiety because of your medical condition and that is impacting your ability to work as well.
Side effects from medication, such as fatigue and sleepiness, should also be noted and considered. All of the tests that confirm Meniere’s Disease and the severity of the symptoms are considered as part of your claim.