Cluster Headaches and SSA DisabilityCluster headaches are headaches which occur periodically and in patterns, lasting days or weeks and then stopping, sometimes for weeks, months or years. Claimants with cluster headaches will have periods of time where work is quite possible and then extended periods of time where work may be impossible.
Symptoms for Cluster Headaches
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Positron emission tomography functional imaging shows activation of specific brain areas during a cluster headache. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"][/caption]
Common symptoms for cluster headaches can include:
- Pain located around the eye but which can radiate to other parts of the neck and shoulders
- Pale skin
- Swelling in the face
- Drooping eyelid
- Reduced pupil size
Cluster headaches may occur any time but generally respond to common medical treatments. Some claimants confuse cluster headaches with migraines, but migraines generally are accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite, exacerbated by loud noises, music or bright lights and the pain is located on one side of the claimants head.
The pain of the cluster headache is also generally not alleviated by lying down in a dark room; in fact, many claimants will find that walking or pacing may help. The condition is often described as an intense feeling or stabbing in the eye.
Claimants with cluster headaches should seek medical care to rule out brain tumors, meningitis, stroke, encephalitis and aneurysms. Claimants with severe nausea, seizures, stiff muscles or mental disorientation should see a doctor immediately.
Causes of Cluster Headaches
Medical doctors are unsure of the cause of cluster headaches, although given the regularity of the attacks many doctors believe that the hypothalamus may be involved. Other irritants include alcohol, which can increase the chances of an attack, and other types of medications.
Men suffer from this condition more often than women, and the condition generally develops in claimants who are in their late 20s. Heredity also seems to play a role.
Winning SSDI or SSI for Cluster Headaches
The Social Security Administration has two methods of determining whether a claimant is disabled. Claimants can be disabled by having a severe health condition which is listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments or their condition can be so severe they can prove through a medical vocational allowance that they cannot work.
Unfortunately, there is not a listing for cluster headaches in the Social Security Administrations Listing of Impairments. Claimants may be able to meet a listing however, by proving their condition is as severe as a condition on the list.
Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Cluster Headaches
To prove your cluster headaches are as severe as a listing you will have to have great medical documentation from your treating doctors. This should include headache specialists, a neurologists or a pain management doctor.
Your medical records should clearly state the frequency, intensity and duration of your headaches and why they interfere with your ability to perform not only daily activities but also work activities.
One of the main hurdles to winning SSDI or SSI benefits will be proving that your condition will last 12 continuous months. Most claimants with cluster headaches will suffer for weeks or months but not for a full year.
Claimants with chronic headaches are almost always denied disability benefits because it is so difficult for them to prove that their condition will last long enough to be considered permanently disabled. Talk to a disability lawyer for more information.
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