Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is the name of several inherited medical conditions that affect joints, skin, and other connective tissues in the body. Ehlers-Danlos is usually the result of a mutation or defect in the genes that produce and regulate collagen—the primary protein making up connective tissue in the human body.
Ehlers-Danlos causes connective tissues to be weaker and more elastic. This means that skin may bruise easier or joints may become extremely loose and overly flexible. There are at least ten different types of Ehlers-Danlos, which affect different collagen genes and lead to varying combinations of symptoms. Because of this, Ehlers-Danlos can be incredibly mild or life-threatening, depending on the type of tissues affected.
Common signs of Ehlers-Danlos include:
- Hyper-flexible joints
- Stretchy or saggy skin
- Muscles and joint pain
- Sprains, pulls, and dislocations
- Skin that bruises easily
Ehlers-Danlos can also lead to heart diseases and other cardiovascular problems if blood vessel or valve tissue is weakened. Weak connective tissues make pregnancy difficult and can prevent injuries from healing properly. The complications associated with Ehlers-Danlos can be life-threatening.
Ehlers-Danlos is diagnosed using genetic testing and family medical records. Tissue biopsies can also be taken to confirm a diagnosis. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Weak tissues can be strengthened using physical or occupational therapy and other symptoms can be controlled by taking different precautions. Sometimes surgery can replace weak joint tissues, though there is a risk of the incisions not healing properly. There are also medications available to treat pain and blood pressure.
Applying for Social Security Disability with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Like many rare genetic conditions, there is no Blue Book listing for Ehlers-Danlos. However, you may still qualify for benefits if you can match a listing associated with your particular symptoms or impairments. For instance, you may qualify under spine or joint dysfunction listings in section 1.00—Musculoskeletal System if your case manifests itself in these areas. If tissues in your heart or blood vessels are affected by Ehlers-Danlos, you may qualify under section 4.00—Cardiovascular System disorders. In any event, you will only qualify for benefits if your condition prevents you from working for a sustained period of time. It is more important that you demonstrate how much you are limited rather than emphasizing the diagnosis itself.
Your Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Case
Even if there was a blue book listing specific to Ehlers-Danlos, the application process is very difficult and few people are awarded benefits upon initial submission. This is why it might be wise to hire an attorney who specializes in the Social Security Disability benefits process. These disability lawyers can help you with all of the application requirements and present your claim to the Social Security Administration.
Disability attorneys are affordable and you generally will not be charged if you are not awarded benefits. In most cases, using a disability attorney increases the chance of receiving an approval from the Social Security Administration. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a complicated disorder that can be tough to manage, so seeking an attorney's help at the outset of the disability benefits application process may be your best bet to secure financial benefits as soon as possible. For a free legal evaluation, click here.