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Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and SSDI benefits

Ehlers-Danlos syndromes consist of a variety of conditions which are inherited from parents. The type and feature of each syndrome may vary but generally include joint hypermobility, weakness of tissues, and bruising. The severity of the condition and the type of treatment needed will vary based on the particular manifestations present. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “If I have been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome will I qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)


Social Security Disability Insurance and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Claimants suffering from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome may experience a wide range of debilitating symptoms which can include double-jointedness, joint pain, joint dislocation, wounds which will not heal, damaged skinned, and increased scarring.

If the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is caused from a connective tissue condition the claimant may have flat feet, vision issues, and severe back pain. Unfortunately, conditions can also worsen over time leading to chronic pain, increased infections, and early onset arthritis.

So how do you know if you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome? Regardless of the condition, the Social Security Administration will only consider claimants disabled if they have a severe health condition which will not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months and does not allow them to generate gainful income or perform substantial work.

Making a disability determination for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

The first step the SSA will take to determine whether your condition is disabling, assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, is to determine if your condition meets a disability listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments or Blue Book (a list of conditions and corresponding symptoms the SSA considers disabling).

Although there is no corresponding listing for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, claimants may still “meet a listing” if they can prove their condition is as severe as a listed condition. To determine if your condition meets a listing you can review your symptoms and see if they meet another listing.

For example, some EDS claimants may meet Listing 1.02 Major dysfunction of a joint, Listing 2.02 or 2.04 Vision loss, Listing 4.10 Aneurysm of the aorta, Listing 5.02 Gastrointestinal bleeding requiring a blood transfusion, or Listing 8.04 Chronic infections of the skin.

Claimants who have sufficient medical evidence to prove their conditions meets one of the above listings may be immediately approved for SSDI benefits.

Qualifying through a medical vocational allowance

Claimants who do not have a condition which meets or exceeds a listing may still be able to win SSDI benefits if they can prove (through a medical vocational allowance) that they do not have the residual capacity to work.

To make this determination the Social Security Administration will develop a residual functional capacity (RFC) report. This report will document the type of work you have performed in the past and the exertional level needed to complete that work. They will also determine whether you have the capacity to perform that type of work now given your age, work history, work skills, education, and disability.

In many cases the SSA will deny your case for “other work”. This means they believe that you may not be able to work your current job, but given the factors listed above, you still have the ability to perform a different job which is less physically and mentally taxing.

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