Social Security Disability Benefits for Hydrocephalus

Social Security Disability Benefits for Hydrocephalus
By Kimberly BishopFebruary 9, 2014

This post discusses Social Security Disability Benefits for hydrocephalus. If you or someone you care for has been assessed with hydrocephalus, it will help to know how the Social Security Administration will evaluate your claim for disability benefits.

This post is not offered as medical advice. If you are having symptoms of a neurological disorder, please seek immediate medical treatment.

Water On the Brain

As the name implies, hydrocephalus means “water on the brain”, except the water is really cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord providing vital protection. When there is too much of this fluid, pressure is put on the brain. . Depending on where the csf is blocked (before or after exiting the ventricle), it can be classified as obstructive hydrocephalus or communicating hydrocephalus. 

Hydrocephalus can happen at any age, but is more common in infants and older adults. The symptoms from hydrocephalus vary depending on the age of the patient but poor coordination (motor function), headaches, nausea, vomiting, change in personality and sleepiness seem to be common with any age group. Hydrocephalus is frequently seen with spina bifida and chiari malformation, but many times the cause is unknown. A traumatic brain injury (tbi) can also cause cerebral spinal fluid and intracranial pressure to increase.

Hydrocephalus treatment includes shunt placement , endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) or even a spinal tap (lumbar puncture). The goal of treatment is to remove excess fluid. Even though pressure may be alleviated, it may quickly build up again. Shunt failure or shunt infection can cause the need for repeated replacement. Regular monitoring of csf pressure is necessary. But normal spinal fluid levels can vary per individual (6 to 25 cmH2O - is roughly normal).

Is hydrocephalus a disability to SSA?

As with all disability claims in front of the Social Security Administration, the name of your disease is not as important as the severity. The real question is: how severe are your/your child’s symptoms? A diagnosis alone is not enough to qualify you for benefits. Your or your child’s symptoms must be severe. Severe impairments affect your ability to live and work on a daily basis.

If your intracranial pressure is hard to control, or you need repeat shunting, you may be found disabled. Unfortunately, untreated hydrocephalus can also leave a permanent brain injury.

In infants, pediatric hydrocephalus (congenital hydrocephalus) can affect development severely. A learning disability or brain damage are possibilities. Adults with hydrocephalus can experience severe declines in cognitive functioning and personality changes.

While there is not a specific listing for hydrocephalus by the Social Security Administration, you or your child’s symptoms may qualify you/them for benefits. Alternative listings can be used to find a claimant disabled. For example, 11.18 Traumatic Brain Injury, 12.02 Neurocognitive Disorder or 12.05 Intellectual Disorder can be used. 

Even if you do not meet any of the above listings (most people do not), SSA can still find you disabled based on the combination of your impairments. If you or your child have been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, the first step is to make sure you are receiving the appropriate medical care for your impairment.

If your symptoms continue to eliminate work for you or functioning for your child, apply for Social Security Disability benefits for yourself or your child as soon as possible and call The Bishop Law Firm today. We want to help!

There is also social support available for people with hydrocephalus and their families. One example is the Hydrocephalus Foundation.

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