Lymphedema and getting SSDI benefits
What is Lymphedema?
To first understand how you might qualify for disability benefits if you have Lymphedema, you must first understand what Lymphedema is. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Lymphedema is swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs and is caused by a blockage in your lymphatic system." The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes and vessels which are responsible for carrying a vital liquid called lymph to various parts of your body. When the fluid is blocked the lymph fluid does not drain properly and the excess fluid and proteins are not carried back to the bloodstream and edema or swelling occurs.
Common causes of Lymphedema
There is currently not a cure for lymphedema, and the most common causes include cancer, infection, or development of scar tissue after the removal of lymph nodes (generally after removing the lymph nodes from the underarm area after a claimant has had breast cancer). The condition can also be genetic if the claimant is born without lymph nodes or lymph nodes are absent. Common treatments for lymphedema include medication and compression stockings.
Winning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for Lymphedema
To win SSDI benefits for any condition you must either prove your condition "meets or equals" a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments (a listing of conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling) or through a medical vocational allowance, which allows claimants to prove they do not have the residual ability to work.
Lymphedema is not a listed condition, but it may be possible to prove that your condition equals another listing. For instance, claimants may be able to prove their condition is as severe as chronic venous insufficiency, which is listed under the Cardiovascular listing. If you have sufficient buildup of lymph fluid in your legs you may be able to prove your symptoms are equal in severity to this listing. The SSA will be looking for the symptom "excessive brawny edema" (a particular kind of swelling) that occurs over the majority of your leg. Talk to your disability lawyer if you have more questions.
Claimants who suffer major joint dysfunction due to their lymphedema may also meet a listing under 1.02 Major dysfunction of a joint(s) (due to any cause) which is listed under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System. Meeting this listing will require your lymphedema to be so severe you have difficulty walking and you are unable to affectively use your hands.
Consider also if your condition is the result of another condition such as cancer the SSA may evaluate the listing and symptom for the appropriate condition.
Winning SSDI for Lymphedema through a medical vocation allowance
Claimants whose condition does not meet or equal a listing will have to prove that they do not have the residual ability to work due to their condition. Under the medical vocational allowance process the SSA will review the claimant’s limitations, past job skills, education, and age. After the SSA determines your "residual functional capacity" or RFC they will determine what work restrictions you might have and what degree of work you can perform (sedentary, light, moderate or heavy). If the SSA decides that you are so limited by your impairment that there is no work you can perform you will be awarded SSDI benefits for lymphedema through a medical vocational allowance.
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