Edema is the swelling and accumulation of fluid in the tissue of the body. Claimants most commonly will have this condition in the extremities of their body including their hands, legs or feet. Fluid can be retained in various compartments of the body, for instance, accumulation of fluid in the lungs is called pulmonary edema and anasarca is the widespread accumulation of fluid in the all of the tissues and cavities of the body.
Causes of Edema
Although a small accumulation of fluid can be normal after a trauma, many claimants have other medical conditions which cause severe edema including:
- Low albumin (hypoalbuminemia
- Allergic reactions
- Obstruction of flow from a blocked lymph node (from a tumor)
- Congestive heart failure
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Cerebral edema from head trauma, low blood sodium (hyponatremia), tumors, or hydrocephalus
General symptoms of Edema
Edema is caused by a variety of different medical conditions and depending on the claimant’s condition they could experience a variety of symptoms including:
- Puffiness of the tissue under the skin
- Shiny skin
- Stretched skin
- Skin which dimples after pressure is applied
- Increase abdominal size
More severe symptoms which can indicate other serious disorders include severe chest pain, and difficulty breathing.
Winning SSDI or SSI for Edema
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods for determining whether a claimant’s condition is severe enough to be considered disabling. First, the SSA will evaluate whether or not the claimant’s condition is listed on their SSA Listing of Impairments. This listing is also called the Blue Book, and it outlines the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling.
Next, if the claimant’s condition does not “meet or equal” a listing than the SSA will use what they call a medical vocational allowance to determine if the claimant has the residual capacity to work.
Meeting a Listing on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments
As mentioned above, many claimants who have severe edema also have a severe underlying health condition which is causing the edema. The SSA would consider the claimant’s condition rather than the edema when evaluating whether or not they can win SSI or SSDI by meeting a listing.
For instance, claimants with severe renal dysfunction will have their condition evaluated under the SSA listing 6.00 Genitourinary impairments, section 6.02 Impairment of Renal function. Under this listing edema is a symptom that is generally present. If the claimant has severe cerebral edema from a head trauma this condition would be evaluated under 11.00 Neurological, section 11.18 Cerebral trauma.
Winning benefits for edema through a medical vocational allowance
Is it possible to win SSI or SSDI for edema if your condition does not meet or equal a listing? Potentially, but is will be tough. Claimants would have to prove that their edema is so severe they cannot perform what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity.
Proving this will require SSI and SSDI claimants to have medical evidence that they are unable to perform basic work activities: stand or walk for extended time periods, sit for more than one hour, reach, pull, lift, push, grasp objects or reach overhead. Claimants who are young (less than 55 years of age), who have a high education and who have performed sedentary work will have difficulty proving that they are unable to work any type of job with edema alone.
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