Chronic Venous Insufficiency – Condition and Symptoms
In the human circulatory system, arteries carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. After the oxygen has been delivered to its destination in the other organs and the extremities, the veins return the now oxygen-poor blood to the lungs, where it can be re-oxygenated. In the legs, contractions of the muscles force the blood upward toward the heart, against the pull of gravity. Small one-way valves in the veins prevent the blood from flowing backward down into the legs so it can make the return trip to the lungs for more oxygen. Sometimes these valves fail, causing blood to pool in the lower extremities. When the blood is unable to return to the heart for more oxygen, the blood pressure in these veins is elevated for long periods of time; the resulting condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency.
There can be several different causes for the failure of these venous valves. They can be damaged by the aging process, by extended periods of sitting or standing, by injuries, or by any combination of these.
Common symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) include:
- Swelling in the lower extremities, especially after long periods of standing
- Aches or tiredness in the legs
- Varicose veins
- Itching or flaking in the skin of the feet or legs
- Changes in the appearance of the skin on the legs
If not treated, the pooled blood in the lower extremities can clot, a condition called thrombosis. When these clots form in deep veins, the result is known as deep vein thrombosis. This condition is particularly dangerous because these clots can dislodge and migrate to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism which can be life-threatening. Other potential consequences of CVI may include edema (pooling of fluid, usually in the legs), skin disturbances, and an increased risk of ulcers and cellulitis.
CVI can be treated through the use of compression stockings to maintain pressure on the legs so the blood returns upward toward the heart. Blood thinners may be used to prevent the formation of clots. In more advanced cases, or cases where deep vein thrombosis has occurred, surgical intervention may be necessary to close or remove problem veins.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Chronic Venous Insufficiency Diagnosis
Chronic Venous Insufficiency has been determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to be one of the disabling conditions that can qualify a person to receive Social Security Disability benefits. In the SSA’s impairment listing manual (more commonly known as the “Blue Book”), CVI is listed as a cardiovascular ailment. In order to qualify for benefits, the condition must meet certain diagnostic criteria related to the severity of the impairment it causes. These criteria are as follows:
- Chronic Venous Insufficiency of a lower extremity involving the deep venous system and one of the following:
- Extensive brawny edema (that is, edema that doesn’t remain indented with pressure from a finger) that involves at least 2/3 of the shin/calf area or the lower third of the leg between the hip and ankle, or
- Surface varicose veins, or stasis dermatitis (an inflammatory skin condition) and recurrent or persistent ulcerations which have not responded to at least 3 months of prescribed treatment.
CVI is typically diagnosed in the initial stages by a review of the symptoms. The diagnosis can be confirmed through ultrasound readings of the blood flow patterns.
Your Chronic Venous Insufficiency Disability Case
If the complications from Chronic Venous Insufficiency have impaired your ability to earn a living, you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Since the disease has to be at a somewhat advanced state to meet the qualifying criteria, accurate documentation in the exhibit file is absolutely essential. As a result, you would be very wise to have your case evaluated by a Social Security disability advocate or attorney.
Nearly 3 of every 4 applications for disability benefits are denied when they are submitted for the first time. While it is reassuring to know that the government is honestly trying to prevent benefits from being distributed to those who don’t deserve them, the down side is that access to these funds for those who do have a legitimate need for them can be very difficult to obtain. For claimants whose claim is denied disability, the only option is to appeal the initial decision. While this may seem like a simple solution, the length of the appeal process can be rather long. The frustrating part is that many of these cases are denied simply due to errors in the application paperwork. It really comes as no surprise that some claimants abandon the process before their case is resolved. Even more tragic is the fact that some don’t survive long enough to receive the benefits they may have had coming to them.
An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can work closely with you and your team of healthcare professionals to make sure your application is submitted correctly the first time, saving you the time and trouble of a protracted appeal.
For some specific tips about applying for disability benefits for chronic venous insufficiency, please visit our helpful tips for applying with a CVI page.