Raynaud’s disease, also called Raynaud’s phenomenon or Raynaud’s syndrome, is a disorder which causes blood vessels to constrict and/or spasm. The condition typically causes discoloration. Usually, the toes and fingers are affected, though the condition may cause discoloration in other places as well. The discoloration is the result of decreased blood supply to the affected areas. The condition often becomes worse with cold weather and stress.
Raynaud’s disease can be a primary disorder or it can develop as the result of conditions such as:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Other Connective tissue disorders
Raynaud’s disease can lead to:
- Gangrene of the toes
- Gangrene of the fingertips
- Extreme constriction of blood vessels (peripheral)
- Tissue hypoxia
- Skin, muscle, and tissue atrophy
- Ischemic gangrene
Raynaud’s disease is treatable, especially if it is caught early. Symptoms include pallor (pale coloration) of the toes, fingers, nose, or earlobes, especially in cold weather and blue skin coloration. Usually, the skin discoloration returns to normal when someone with Raynaud’s disease gets out of the cold weather or when stress levels return to normal. Painful swelling and tingling often accompany skin discoloration episodes.
Raynaud’s disease is typically treated by preventing the circumstances which cause flare ups (i.e., keeping extremities warm and avoiding stress). Doctors sometimes prescribe medications as well. Medical treatments focus on trying to dilate the blood vessels. On rare occasions, chemical injections or surgery are used to treat Raynaud’s disease.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability with Raynaud's Disease
Raynaud’s syndrome does not have its own listing in the SSA’s Blue Book, but it is included as part of several other listings in Section 14 (Immune System Disorders). If your Raynaud’s syndrome is secondary, it will generally be adjudicated based on the condition which is causing it. Generally speaking, to qualify for disability, your Raynaud’s syndrome must:
- Cause gangrene in two or more extremities
- Include severe ulcerations on the toes or fingers which make it impossible to perform fine or gross motor movements effectively
When you apply for Social Security disability, you will need proof of your Raynaud’s Disease diagnosis. The medical documentation will need to show that the severity of your condition is such that you cannot be expected to continue working. If your condition is caused or worsened by stress, this should be indicated in your claim, as it could have a bearing on whether you are deemed capable of working in an office environment.
Social Security disability claims involving Raynaud’s disease often come down to determining whether any work is available which would not cause your symptoms to flare up. Because of this, it is important to document which situations cause your symptoms to manifest.
The SSA will attempt to determine whether there are any kinds of job which you could do despite your disability. They will consider your previous jobs (especially those held over the last 15 years), your education level, and any special training you’ve had. If, in their estimation, there are any jobs you could perform or reasonably be trained to perform with your condition, they will deny your claim.
Your Raynaud's Disease Social Security Disability Case
Two out of three Social Security disability claims are initially denied. While many of these claims are later approved during the appeals process, the wait can be long and difficult, especially when you’re already dealing with the disabling effects of Raynaud’s disease.
The chances of your claim being approved improve dramatically when you are represented by a Social Security disability lawyer who knows how to navigate the confusing disability system. You are entitled to legal representation during the Social Security disability process. In most case, you won’t need to pay anything unless your claim is awarded and you collect SSDI or SSI back pay.