Varicose Veins and Social Security Disability

A chronic medical condition that affects the blood vessels, varicose veins are most commonly found in the legs, though they can affect any area of the vascular system. Veins become swollen and painful, and may even burst due to poor circulation and the collection of too much blood in the vessels at one time.

While in most cases, varicose veins are a relatively mild or minor medical condition that can be managed through lifestyle and dietary adjustments and with minimally invasive treatments and procedures, in its more severe or advanced forms, particularly when associated with a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), it can be quite debilitating and may qualify you for disability benefits.

Varicose Veins Symptoms and Treatments

Varicose veins are usually highly treatable, though they may still cause chronic pain or discomfort and other symptoms. They don’t typically prevent gainful employment. The most common symptoms seen with varicose veins include:

  • Swelling of the blood vessels
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs
  • Pain and general discomfort
  • A feeling of heaviness in the affected area
  • Increased fatigability

In more severe cases, particularly when associated with CVI, skin ulcerations may develop in the affected body region. Ulcerations are painful and often difficult to manage. They can additionally lead to the development of bacterial infections and other complications.

In its more manageable forms, the most common treatments for varicose veins include the wearing of support stockings or hose and the elevation of the legs while sleeping or resting. Other dietary and lifestyle adjustments may also be prescribed.

When skin ulcers develop, many patients require surgical intervention to treat ulcers and remove dead tissue. Antibiotics and other medications are also required when ulcers are present. Chronic ulcerations may require the surgical removal of veins in the affected area.

Applying for SSD with Varicose Veins

While it is possible to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with varicose veins, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has no dedicated listing for the condition. This means you must either qualify under the listing for CVI, or under a medical vocational allowance, which simply means that while your condition does not meet or match a listed condition, it is nonetheless so disabling that it prevents you from maintaining gainful employment.

The SSA’s listing for CVI appears in Section 4.11 of the Blue Book. To meet the listing for CVI, your application must show:

  • Your CVI effects at least one of your legs, causing insufficient or obstructed blood flow in the deep veins,
  • AND

  • Extensive and lasting edema in 2/3 of your lower leg, from knee to ankle, or 1/3 of your entire leg, from hip to ankle
  • OR

  • Consistent or ongoing, recurrent skin ulcerations or stasis dermatitis that persists for a minimum of 3 months despite following prescribed treatments.

If your CVI affects another area of your body other than your legs, but is equal in severity to the listing in Section 4.11 of the Blue Book, your application may be approved as an equivalent match to that listing.

If however, your varicose veins do not meet the CVI listing or match it closely enough, your residual functional capacity (RFC) must be reviewed to determine your eligibility for benefits. If you have severe enough symptoms, making it difficult to sit, stand, walk, or otherwise perform normal, everyday functions, including typical job duties, then your RFC rating may be sufficient for you to qualify for disability benefits under a medical vocational allowance.

Getting Help with Your Varicose Veins SSD Application

It can be difficult to prove any disability claim, but it is especially challenging when the application is based on a condition for which the SSA has no dedicated disability listing. You may wish to seek assistance with your application and in collecting the necessary medical records and other documentation to support your claim. A Social Security advocate or attorney can be an invaluable resource in filing your initial application for disability benefits and even more so if your claim is denied and appeals are required.