Spina Bifida can be devastating for newborns and parents. As people with Spina Bifida age, they have to live with the effects of the disease. If your child was born with Spina Bifida or if your own Spina Bifida has stopped you from working, you need to consider applying for Social Security Disability.

According to the Spina Bifida Association, Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. Spina bifida, which literally means “cleft spine,” is characterized by the incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, and/or meninges (the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord). Found here.

There are four types of Spina Bifida: Occulta (mildest), closed neural tube defects, Meningocele and Myelomeningocele (most serious).

Occulta is the mildest and most common form in which one or more vertebrae are malformed.  The name “occulta,” which means “hidden,” indicates that a layer of skin covers the malformation, or opening in the vertebrae.  This form of spina bifida, present in 10-20 percent of the general population, rarely causes disability or symptoms.

Closed neural tube defects make up the second type of spina bifida.  This form consists of a diverse group of defects in which the spinal cord is marked by malformations of fat, bone, or meninges.  In most instances there are few or no symptoms; in others the malformation causes incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel dysfunction.

In the third type, meningocele, spinal fluid and meninges protrude through an abnormal vertebral opening; the malformation contains no neural elements and may or may not be covered by a layer of skin.   Some individuals with meningocele may have few or no symptoms while others may experience such symptoms as complete paralysis with bladder and bowel dysfunction.

Myelomeningocele, the fourth form, is the most severe and occurs when the spinal cord/neural elements are exposed through the opening in the spine, resulting in partial or complete paralysis of the parts of the body below the spinal opening.  The impairment may be so severe that the affected individual is unable to walk and may have bladder and bowel dysfunction. 

Via the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Complications can arise from your Spina Bifida such as hydrocephalus or tethered cord. The treatments for Spina Bifida vary on the severity of the disease. Preventing infection of the exposed nerves/tissues is the first step and surgery usually follows.

The Social Security Administration evaluates adults with Spina Bifida under 1.04, Disorders of the Spine. Children are evaluated under  101.04, Disorders of the Spine.  In addition, there may be neurological abnormalities in children that are evaluated under 111.0-Neurological-Childhood. The inability to ambulate effectively is discussed in these listings. Do you have to use a walker or crutches to walk? If so, you may meet this listing. In my clients with Spina Bifida, back pain with walking or standing is a concern.

If your child was born with Spina Bifida, you should file for Child SSI as soon as possible on their behalf. If you were born with Spina Bifida and can no longer work because of your symptoms, you should file for benefits as soon as possible.