Disability Benefits for Syringomyelia

This post discusses disability benefits for Syringomyelia. If you are unable to work due to Syringomyelia, read on for how SSA will evaluate your claim for disability.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

SSA offers two types of benefits for disability claimants: Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life while SSI is a need based program.

You must be found disabled under SSA’s Five Step Sequential Evaluation before you are entitled to either benefit. The first step is to apply for benefits online or at your local SSA office. If you are unable to work due to your Syringomyelia apply for SSI and/or SSDI benefits as soon as possible. Delay may cause you to lose benefits!

What is Syringomyelia? 

Syringomyelia is the development of a fluid-filled cyst (syrinx) within your spinal cord. If the cyst enlarges, damage can be caused to your spinal cord. Syringomyelia can have many causes but the most common cause is a Chiari malformation  (brain tissue protrudes into your spinal canal). Via The Mayo Clinic

The spinal cord carries vital information about the rest of your body to your brain. When the spinal cord is damaged, this imperative flow of information can be cut off resulting in progressive weakness in the arms and legs, stiffness in the back, shoulders, arms, or legs, and chronic, severe pain.  Headaches, loss of bladder function and inability to feel hot/cold are also some possible symptoms. Via The National Institutes of Health

There are two types of Syringomyelia, communicating and non-communicating. Communicating Syringomyelia is associated with a Chiari I malformation. Communicating can also be accompanied by hydrocephalus (when CSF accumulates in the brain). Non-communicating arises from a complication of trauma, meningitis, hemorrhage, a tumor, or arachnoiditis. The symptoms may take months or years to manifest.

Treatments for Syringomyelia include surgery (to increase space at the base of the skull/upper neck) and shunting (draining the syrinx). If a tumor is causing the Syringomyelia, removing it is usually the best option. Shunting may injure the spinal cord and shunts may have to be replaced due to clogging. Medications are not a treatment for Syringomyelia, except to remedy pain.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Syringomyelia

Social Security can evaluate Syringomyelia under Listing 11.08. This listing requires:

“11.08 Spinal cord disorders, characterized by A, B, or C:

  1. Complete loss of function, as described in 11.00M2, persisting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder (see 11.00M4) OR
  2. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (see 11.00D1), resulting in an extreme limitation (see 11.00D2) in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities persisting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder (see 11.00M4) OR
  3. Marked limitation (see 11.00G2) in physical functioning (see 11.00G3a) and in one of the following areas of mental functioning, both persisting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder (see 11.00M4):
    1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
    2. Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
    3. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
    4. Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).”

As with most listings, 11.08 is difficult to meet. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities would mean that you have serious issues with both hands or legs or one hand/one leg. Are you unable to walk without an assistive device? Are you unable to grasp and hold objects without dropping them? If you answer yes to either of these questions, you may meet the above listing.

Pain, numbness and other symptoms may eliminate the possibility of work for you long before you meet this listing. Even if you do not meet the above listing, you still may be found disabled based on your Syringomyelia. The SSA can use the Medical Vocational Guidelines (SSA Grid Rules) to find you disabled if you are 50 years of age or older and your symptoms affect your ability to stand, walk and carry.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in RaleighDurhamFayettevilleCary, Rocky MountWilsonSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095  .

Also read Overview of the Disability Process

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