Monthly Archives: April 2012

Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Getting Social Security Disability Benefits

Neurofibromatosis is a neurocutaneous syndrome. Neurocutaneous syndromes are disorders that result in the growth of tumors in different areas of your body. These disorders are brought about by the abnormal formation of cells in an embryo and are marked by the development of tumors in different areas of your body and by certain differences in your skin.

Neurofibromatosis primarily involves how your nerve cells grow and develop. It involves your nerves, spinal cord and brain. However, neurofibromatosis may also affect your skin and other body systems. Neurofibromatosis may result in the growth of benign (non-cancerous) tumors on your nerve tissue that cause bone and skin abnormalities. In a few instances, these tumors can be malignant (cancerous).

There are three forms of neurofibromatosis. They are:

Type 1 (NF1) – The most common form of neurofibromatosis, which usually begins at birth and results in deformed bones and skin changes
Type 2 (NF2) – This type of neurofibromatosis usually begins during the teen years and results in poor balance, hearing loss and ringing in the ears
The third and most rare kind of neurofibromatosis is schwannomatosis, which causes intense pain.

As just mentioned, neurofibromatosis type 1 is the most common kind of neurofibromatosis. Neurofibromatosis type 1 is evidenced by the development of non-cancerous tumors that are referred to as neurofibromas. These tumors usually grow right beneath or on your skin. They also form in your peripheral nervous system and brain. However, these tumors may also form in other areas of your body, like your eye.

Neurofibromatosis type 1 a genetic condition. It is caused by a defect (mutation) in a gene on chromosome 17. About 50% of the time, you inherit this defective gene from one of your parents. In the other 50% of the cases of neurofibromatosis type 1, the mutation is new and probably took place during your development as an embryo inside of your mother.

The signs and symptoms produced by neurofibromatosis may vary widely, as well as the severity of these signs and symptoms. Some of the possible signs and symptoms include:

Distinctive spots on your skin that increase with age that are the color of coffee with milk
Freckles that increase with age
Benign tumors that form on the optic nerve that connects your eye to your brain (optic gliomas)
Curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
A larger than average size head
Benign growths on the iris of your eye (Lisch nodules)
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Learning disabilities
Short stature
Bone defects
Soft bumps right under or on your skin (neurofibromas).

Neurofibromatosis type 1 is not on the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments. This does not mean that you or your child with this disorder will not be eligible to get Social Security disability benefits. It all depends on how severe the disorder is and whether it has brought about complications that have resulted in you or your child’s disability.

A disability attorney is the right one to talk to. A disability attorney may be able to enable you to get the Social Security disability benefits that you or your child have coming to you.

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Hydrocephalus and SSA Disability Benefits

Hydrocephalus is the accumulation of fluid in the brain which increases the pressure in the ventricles of the brain, potentially damaging the brain tissue. This condition was once referred to as “water on the brain” although this is a misnomer since the actual liquid which is accumulating is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Images from a patient with normal pressure hyd...

Images from a patient with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) showing pulsations of CSF with heartbeat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is CSF important? Cerebrospinal fluid is critical to the brain’s normal functions. It keeps the brain tissue insulated, delivers nutrients, eliminates wastes and moderates the intracranial blood volume. But an obstruction, poor absorption or an overproduction of this important fluid can lead to abnormal pressure which, if created, leads to a variety of severe symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Hydrocephalus

Although this condition is most common in infants due to genetic disorders or abnormalities, it also can be caused by tumors, meningitis, traumatic head injuries, and hemorrhages.  Claimants who suffer from this condition may experience the following:

  1. A large head
  2. Bulging spot on the top of the head
  3. Poor appetite
  4. Seizures
  5. Loss of muscle tone and strength
  6. Irritability
  7. Sleepiness
  8. Poor coordination
  9. Loss of balance
  10. Slow movements
  11. Shuffling gait
  12. Memory loss
  13. Loss of bladder control

Winning SSDI or SSI benefits for Hydrocephalus

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods for determining whether or not a claimant is disabled and qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). First the SSA will determine if the claimant’s condition is found in the SSA Listing of Impairments. This list outlines all of the conditions and their corresponding symptoms that the SSA considers automatically disabling.

If a claimant’s condition is not on the SSA listing of Impairments they will determine if it leaves them with enough residual functional capacity to work. This is done through the medical vocational allowance process.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Hydrocephalus

The SSA will generally evaluate hydrocephalus to determine if the symptoms the claimant is experiencing either “meet or exceed” the symptoms outlined for other neurological disorders outlined under 11.00 Neurological. For example, if the claimant suffers from severe seizures they may be able to prove that their symptoms are as severe as the listing for 11.02 Epilepsy. If the claimant has severe loss of motor function it could be comparable to the symptoms outlined under listing 11.13 Muscular Dystrophy.

Winning SSDI or SSI through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Most claimants will not meet a listing and will have to prove that their condition is so severe that they cannot work their current job, their previous job, or retrain for new work. The SSA will evaluate the claimant’s age, work history, education and level of work to make this determination.

The goal for all claimants who are attempting to win SSI or SSDI with this condition is to get great medical care from a licensed doctor and the proper specialist. Next, the claimant must make sure that their doctor clearly states in their medical records their symptoms, the severity of their condition and limitations they have due to their condition.

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Autoimmune Disorders and SSA Disability Benefits

There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders recognized by medical experts. Autoimmune disorders result when an individual’s immune system or white blood cells, which protect the body from dangerous antigens such as cancer cells, viruses, toxins and bacteria, begin to attack healthy body tissue or organs.

Low mag. Image: Autoimmune hepatitis - interme...

Autoimmune hepatitis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autoimmune disorders lead to the destruction of healthy tissues and the normal antibodies produced by the body lose their ability to differentiate between healthy body tissue and antigens. Instead of ignoring the body tissue the body attacks itself and destroys it. It also can lead to changes in the functions of the organs.

Autoimmune disorders may negatively affect a claimant’s muscles, joints, red blood cells, skin, connective tissues, thyroid, pancreas or blood vessels. There are a number of common immune system disorders including celiac disease, Grave’s disease, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Addison’s disease.

Common Symptoms caused by Autoimmune Disorders

If you suffer from a severe autoimmune disorder you may have a variety of symptoms including fever, severe fatigue, cough, wheezing, rashes, diarrhea, and joint pain. Some symptoms may be so severe that you are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months and you may be wondering if you can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Winning SSDI or SSI for Autoimmune Disorders

The Social Security Administration has two methods to determine if a claimant is disabled and eligible to receive SSI or SSDI benefits: evaluating whether the claimant’s condition is so severe they meet a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book this list identifies all of the conditions which are considered automatically disabling) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Autoimmune Disorders

The SSA Listing of Impairments does have a listing for Autoimmune Disorders. It can be found under listing 14.00 Autoimmune Disorders and it includes systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic vasculitis, system sclerosis, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease, immune deficiency disorders (excluding HIV), HIV, inflammatory arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Having one of these conditions may not be enough to win benefits. You must also prove that your condition is so severe that the symptoms “meet or exceed” the symptoms outlined in the listing of impairments.

The SSA recognizes that immune system disorders will cause unusual infections, inflammation, and dysfunction of the body’s tissues, causing a loss of function either in one organ or multiple organs. The SSA also recognizes that due to the “symptoms or signs, such as severe fatigue, fever, malaise, diffuse musculoskeletal pain, or involuntary weight loss, can also result in extreme limitation” and these limitations include the inability of a claimant to perform substantial gainful activity.

Winning SSI or SSDI Benefits through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Many claimants will not meet the listing identified in the SSA listing of impairments but may be able to prove, through a medical vocational allowance, that they are unable to continue to perform their current job, previous job or retrain for new work. If your condition does not meet a listing it may be beneficial to have a disability lawyer review your SSDI or SSI claim and your medical records to determine how to prove your case.

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Renal Agenesis- Can I get SSA Disability Benefits?

Most individuals have two kidneys which develop in utero when the metanephric buds begin to develop into the kidneys. The kidney develop first near the urinary bladder and move up towards their permanent location in the rear of the abdominal cavity. What happens if a baby fails to develop both of their kidneys? The result can be condition known as renal agenesis.

Frontal section through the kidney

Renal agenesis can occur due to a variety of reasons such as insufficient blood flow or chromosomal abnormalities. The disorder is also more prevalent if one of the parents also has a kidney malformation. It is estimated that this condition occurs in one out of every 550 births each year.

Renal agenesis has also been linked to birth defects, increased kidney infection, high blood pressure and kidney failure. Renal agenesis may cause the one active kidney to become enlarged as it works to remove wastes from the blood, create urine and maintain the claimant’s blood pressure.

Winning SSDI or SSI benefits for Renal Agenesis

The Social Security Administration has two methods to determine whether a claimant qualifies for SSDI or SSI benefits: determine if their impairment is listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments or through a medical vocational allowance.

The SSA listing of impairments is a listing of all the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling. Having a condition which is listed will not be sufficient to win benefits. Claimants must also have symptoms which are evident and documented which “meet or exceed” the appropriate listing. Claimant’s conditions must also be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months.

Meeting a Listing for Renal Agenesis

Kidney conditions are evaluated under 6.00 Genitourinary Impairments, 6.02 Impairments of renal function which can be used to evaluate any chronic renal disease which has lasted or can be expected to last for 12 continuous months. The SSA is looking for chronic hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplantation which is considered a disability for 12 months following surgery.

With these conditions the SSA is evaluating whether the claimant has a need for dialysis, has just had a kidney transplanted or has high creatine levels. If a claimant has high creatine levels the SSA also expects that they will have several of the following – persistent fluid overload with high blood pressure, persistent signs of vascular congestion and persistent anorexia.

Winning benefits through a medical vocational allowance

Claimants who do not have a condition which meets or exceeds a listing may still be able to prove that their renal agenesis is so severe that they are unable to work. If the claimant has other severe disorders (for example high blood pressure) than all the disorders will be considered in their entirety and the SSA will determine if they have the residual capacity to work their current job, past jobs or retrain for new work.

Keep in mind, the older the claimant the greater chance they will have to prove that they may not be able to retrain for new work. This can be especially true for claimants who are 55 years or older who have never performed sedentary work but who are no longer able to do heavy work.

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Learning Disabilities for Children and Getting SSI

Learning disabilities is a term that may have been used in reference to your child. Learning disabilities is a term that may be very disturbing to you as a parent.

It is extremely important that you understand what learning disabilities are not. Learning disabilities are not about motivation or intelligence. Children who have learning disabilities are not dumb or lazy. Most children with learning disabilities are just as smart and intelligent as children who do not have these disorders.

What, then, are learning disabilities? Learning disabilities are simply having your brain wired differently from other people. This involves how information is processed and received.

In a different way

Another way to say this is that children who have learning disabilities hear, understand and see things in a different way. This may mean that your child has difficulty learning new skills and information, and how to put them into practice.

There are several different types of learning disabilities that affect the manner in which children remember, understand, acquire, express and organize verbal and non-verbal information. These learning disabilities may range in severity from mild to severe. They may interfere with your child’s ability to learn one of more of the following skills. These include:

Mathematics – Problem solving and computation
Written language – Spelling and written expression
Reading – Decoding and comprehension
Oral Language – Listening, understanding and speaking

Some of the different types of learning disabilities are:

Communication Disorder – Mixed receptive-expressive or stuttering language disorder, expressive language disorder, phonological disorder
Motor Skills Disorder – Developmental coordination disorder
Learning Disorders – Mathematics disorder, reading disorder or disorder of written expression.

Learning disabilities are not easy to recognize. Due to the wide variations of these disorders, there is no single sign or symptom to watch for that will be proof of the problem.

The signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are a diverse set of characteristics that affect achievement and development. Some of the signs and symptoms are present in all children at some point in their development. However, children who have learning disabilities will usually show a cluster of signs and symptoms that they do not outgrow. Possible signs and symptoms include:

Problems with sequencing
Reversing letters
Disorganization and other sensory problems
Immature speech, delayed speech development
A short attention span
Performs differently from day to day
Poorly coordinated, hand-eye coordination difficulty
Problems with understanding concepts or words
Poor reading and/or writing ability
Poor memory
Problems with sounding out words
Problems with listening and remembering
An inability to discriminate among/between numerals, sounds or letters
Difficulty following directions
Placing letters in incorrect sequence
Problems with knowing left from right and telling time
Says one thing, but means another
Does not adjust well to change
Responds inappropriately in many instances
Being hard to discipline
Impulsive, distractible, restless.

Researchers have ideas about why learning disabilities take place, but no one knows for sure what causes them. Some of these possible things that may result in learning disabilities are environmental impact, hereditary or genetic influences and brain development.

If your child has a severe learning disability and your income and financial resources are below certain amounts, your child may qualify to get Social Security disability benefits that are known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

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