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Hydrocephalus and SSA Disability Benefits

Hydrocephalus is the accumulation of fluid in the brain which increases the pressure in the ventricles of the brain, potentially damaging the brain tissue. This condition was once referred to as “water on the brain” although this is a misnomer since the actual liquid which is accumulating is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Images from a patient with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) showing pulsations of CSF with heartbeat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]Images from a patient with normal pressure hyd...[/caption]

Why is CSF important? Cerebrospinal fluid is critical to the brain’s normal functions. It keeps the brain tissue insulated, delivers nutrients, eliminates wastes and moderates the intracranial blood volume. But an obstruction, poor absorption or an overproduction of this important fluid can lead to abnormal pressure which, if created, leads to a variety of severe symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Hydrocephalus


Although this condition is most common in infants due to genetic disorders or abnormalities, it also can be caused by tumors, meningitis, traumatic head injuries, and hemorrhages.  Claimants who suffer from this condition may experience the following:

  1. A large head

  2. Bulging spot on the top of the head

  3. Poor appetite

  4. Seizures

  5. Loss of muscle tone and strength

  6. Irritability

  7. Sleepiness

  8. Poor coordination

  9. Loss of balance

  10. Slow movements

  11. Shuffling gait

  12. Memory loss

  13. Loss of bladder control


Winning SSDI or SSI benefits for Hydrocephalus


The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods for determining whether or not a claimant is disabled and qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). First the SSA will determine if the claimant’s condition is found in the SSA Listing of Impairments. This list outlines all of the conditions and their corresponding symptoms that the SSA considers automatically disabling.

If a claimant’s condition is not on the SSA listing of Impairments they will determine if it leaves them with enough residual functional capacity to work. This is done through the medical vocational allowance process.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Hydrocephalus


The SSA will generally evaluate hydrocephalus to determine if the symptoms the claimant is experiencing either “meet or exceed” the symptoms outlined for other neurological disorders outlined under 11.00 Neurological. For example, if the claimant suffers from severe seizures they may be able to prove that their symptoms are as severe as the listing for 11.02 Epilepsy. If the claimant has severe loss of motor function it could be comparable to the symptoms outlined under listing 11.13 Muscular Dystrophy.

Winning SSDI or SSI through a Medical Vocational Allowance


Most claimants will not meet a listing and will have to prove that their condition is so severe that they cannot work their current job, their previous job, or retrain for new work. The SSA will evaluate the claimant’s age, work history, education and level of work to make this determination.

The goal for all claimants who are attempting to win SSI or SSDI with this condition is to get great medical care from a licensed doctor and the proper specialist. Next, the claimant must make sure that their doctor clearly states in their medical records their symptoms, the severity of their condition and limitations they have due to their condition.
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