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Chiari Malformation and SSA disability

Chiari malformation (kee-AHR-ee) occurs when the claimant’s brain tissue (cerebellum) presses downward into the upper spinal column. This compression often interferes with the flow of the spinal fluid leading to mild to severe neurological symptoms.

There are several types of Chiari malformation. The most common types are Type II, which is present at birth, and Type I, which develops over time as the claimant’s brain develops and may not be discovered or the claimant may not begin to experience symptoms until they reach adolescence or adulthood.

Claimants who have chiari malformation may experience mild or severe symptoms.

  1. Numbness in the hands and feet

  2. Dizziness

  3. Vision difficulties

  4. Slurred speech

  5. Lack of balance

  6. Neck pain

  7. Poor bladder control

  8. Scoliosis

  9. Severe head aches

  10. Sleep apnea

Winning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Chiari Malformation

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods for determining disability. Claimants can either have a condition which is listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book) or they can prove that they do not have the residual capacity to work through a medical vocational allowance.

The Social Security Administration does not have a specific listing for chiari malformation but this does not mean that you could not prove that your condition is so severe that it does not meet or exceed another listing outlined in the SSA Blue Book. If you have questions about how to meet a listing it may be beneficial to talk to a disability lawyer and find out what medical evidence needs to be included in your medical records to win your case.

Winning Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for Chiari through a medical vocational allowance

Claimants whose condition is not listed on the SSA listing of impairments will have a more difficult time proving that they qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. What you will need to do is prove that you do not have the residual capacity to work previous jobs, your current job or retrain for new work.

If a claimant cannot return to their previous work the Social Security Administration will review their work experience, age, and education (which are called “vocational factors”) to determine if they could retrain for new work. At this point they will review your medical records and examine how much residual capacity you have to work. If you have other conditions in addition to chiari malformation which lowers your ability to work they should also be included in your SSI or SSDI application, and the SSA will consider all of your conditions in their totality. If they decide you cannot work and you meet all the other nonmedical requirements, you will be awarded SSI or SSDI benefits.

What does this mean for my SSI or SSDI disability case?

The best way to win SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance is to have good medical records of your limitations to work.  If possible your doctor should include information about your limitations, the frequency of your symptoms and why you might be incapable ofperforming even the simplest job.

Do not exaggerate the severity, frequency or the limitations of your condition but make sure that your medical evidence is clear, detailed, and accurately describes why you do not have the ability to work.
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