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Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) and SSI Disability Benefits

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis or ADEM is described as a, “neurological disorder characterized by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord caused by damage to the myelin sheath.” Some suggest that this disorder is generally associated with a variety of vaccinations, and symptoms of the disorder occur when the myelin sheath which insulates the nerve fibers in the brain is damaged causing:

  1. Coma

  2. Seizures

  3. Fever

  4. Ataxia

  5. Delirium

  6. Headaches

  7. Nausea

  8. Weight Loss

  9. Paralysis of a single limb or one side of the body


ADEM is more common in children than adults. Some children may experience only mild symptoms after a vaccination which including headaches or fever.

The good news is that therapy and treatment are available for this condition and the prognosis for recovery is generally favorable. If you have child with this condition you may see recovery within days or months, and most kids have a total or near total recover. There may, however, be mild long-term conditions which remain including some vision loss, numbness, cognitive issues or muscle weakness. A small number of individuals die from this condition.

Winning SSI for Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis


There are many requirements for qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This condition generally occurs in children, and children will only qualify for SSI benefits (SSDI is only offered for workers who have worked and have enough work credits to be considered disabled).

To win SSI you will have to prove that your child’s condition causes “marked and severe” impairment, it will last for at least 12 continuous months and your family has VERY limited income and resources. If your family does not meet the income and resource requirements for SSI the severity of your child’s condition will not matter.

The SSA maintains a listing of all a child’s conditions and their corresponding symptoms that they consider automatically disabled. Although ADEM is not specifically listed on the SSA listing of impairments Part B for children, you may be able to prove that the symptoms your child is experiencing are a severe as another listing. For instance, if your child has severe seizures you might could prove that your child’s condition meets the listing under 111.00 Neurological, Section 111.02 Major Motor Seizure Disorder.

The main challenge for parents with a child with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis is proving that it will last for 12 continuous months. Since this condition generally last for a maximum of 6 months with proper treatment the Social Security Administration (SSA) may argue that with proper treatment your child will not be disabled for a year, and the SSA does not offer any type of short-term disability benefits.

Hiring a Disability Lawyer


If you have questions about applying for SSI or if you are concerned that you do not have the right medical evidence to prove your child is disabled, talk to a disability attorney. Most disability lawyers offer free consultations and will let you know if you have a good SSI disability case.
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