This post discusses how SSA will evaluate your claim for Social Security Disability if you have been diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in Raleigh, NC and surrounding areas. We do not get paid unless you win and we offer free case reviews by phone, (919) 615-3095.

Social Security Disability

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Social Security offers two types of disability benefits (in general) for people who are unable to work because of their health, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on the credits from the work that you have done in the last 10 years 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 five step sequential evaluation:

  • Step 1 – Are You Working?
  • Step 2 – Is Your Condition “Severe”?
  • Step 3 – Is Your Condition on the List of Disabling Conditions?
  • Step 4 – Can You Do the Work You Did Previously?
  • Step 5 – Can You Do Any Other Type of Work?

For a detailed discussion of the above five steps look here.

What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a rare disease that was not formally recognized by the CDC until 2017. Prior to that time, most MCAS patients were diagnosed with anaphylaxis. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome occurs when mast cells (allergy cells responsible for immediate allergic reactions) trigger an allergic reaction or inflammatory reaction spontaneously. Mast cells secrete histamine, prostaglandins and various enzymes (mediators) in response to pathogens. In MCAS, the mast cells release mediators too often and/or too frequently (Via Healthline).

This inappropriate release of mass cells can cause allergic reactions in various body systems. The most common affected areas are the skin, nervous system, cardiovascular and digestive system.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, itching and watery eyes, earache, nasal congestion, post nasal drip, sinus pressure/pain and throat clearing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, chronic pain, hives, itching, skin rash, headache, weakness, dizziness, allergic reactions to various food and drugs, nystagmus, tremors, recurrent arrhythmias, low blood pressure, syncope and near syncope, palpitations (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and anaphylactic shock are all possible symptoms.

Treatment can include antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, mediator blockers and corticosteroids.

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and MCAS can occur together. Research is underway to determine the connection between the three disorders. In addition, MCAS frequently co-occurs with autoimmune diseases. 

Is MCAS a disability?

First, it should be noted that the Social Security Administration can find you disabled on almost any impairment if your condition is severe enough, but,  having MCAS alone will not qualify you for disability benefits. The severity of your MCAS is key.

If you and your health professional are able to determine what triggers your mediators and control their release with medication, you may not qualify for benefits. But if your triggers are unpredictable and you have severe spontaneous allergic reactions, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

While SSA does not have a listing specifically for MCAS, a claimant can still be found disabled based on SSA’s Immune Listing 14.06; Grid Rules if they are over 50; or the combination of their impairments. While Listing 14.06 is not directly on point, it can be used to find you disabled if two body systems are involved with one of the body systems being involved to a moderate degree AND you have at least two of the following: severe fatigue, fever, malaise or involuntary weight loss.

If you are 50 years of age or older and your symptoms restrict you from doing worker at higher than the sedentary level, you may be found disabled under the Medical Vocational Guidelines (Grid Rules). And lastly, since MCAS can affect so many body systems, you may be found disabled based on the combination of your impairments.

The name of your impairment is not as important as the severity of your symptoms. If you are unable to work because of your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as possible and call The Bishop Law Firm for a free case review, (919) 615-3095. We represent disabled clients in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Fayetteville, Smithfield, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, Louisburg and other areas in North Carolina.