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Meningitis and SSA Disability Benefits

Can I get SSDI or SSI for Meningitis?

Meningitis is caused by inflammation of the membranes which surround the brain and spinal cord. According to WebMD, the primary cause of meningitis is infection, including viral, fungal and bacterial, which can lead to high fever, a stiff neck and severe headache.

Bacterial meningitis is generally the most dangerous type. Infections of this nature occur if the bacteria enters the claimant’s blood and moves to the brain or spinal cord. At which point the bacteria can enter the meninges.

The severity and the resulting impact of meningitis can vary. Some claimants can recover from this condition on their own within a few weeks; other claimants may have severe side-effects which can be life-threatening.

Other symptoms of this dangerous condition include:

There are a variety of risk factors for this condition including age, the living environment, whether you are pregnant, commonly work with animals or if you have an immune system which is weak due to another underlying health condition such as AIDS or diabetes.

Winning SSI or SSDI for Meningitis

The Social Security Administration only offers SSI or SSDI to claimants who have a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. For this reason, if you have been diagnosed with meningitis it is unlikely that your condition will last the requisite amount of time to qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. What may occur, however, is that the meningitis could cause another debilitating health condition which could eliminate your ability to work.

For example, if you have a severe case of meningitis it is possible that you could develop severe hearing loss, loss of speech, severe learning disabilities, or blindness. Other claimants may experience an increased incidence of seizures, brain damage, paralysis, kidney failure, or adrenal gland failure.

How will the SSA evaluate my meningitis and award SSI or SSDI?

If you have meningitis or you have had meningitis in the past the SSA will evaluate your on-going, long-term symptoms and whether or not they are severe and expected to last for 12 continuous months.

The SSA has two methods of determining disability for SSI or SSDI: claimants can either meet a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments (also called the Blue Book, this list identifies the conditions and their corresponding system which the SSA considers automatically disabling or whether or not a claimant can work. This is done through a medical vocational allowance).

If you have a had a severe case of meningitis and it has left you blind, for instance, the SSA would evaluate your condition under listing 2.00 Special Senses and Speech to see if you are considered disabled. If you have seizures the SSA will evaluate your condition under 11.00 Neurological.

If your symptoms from your meningitis are not severe enough to meet a listing but they are severe enough to limit your ability to work or perform substantial gainful activity, the SSA will determine if you have the residual functional capacity to work by evaluating your medical records, your age, your work skills and your previous jobs to determine if you could work your current or past job or if you could retrain for new work.

If your condition does not “meet or equal” a listing it is generally a good idea to discuss your case with a disability lawyer to find out if you have enough medical evidence to prove that you cannot work.
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