Congenital Lymphedema and Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration introduced the Compassionate Allowances program in 2008. The program was implemented due to a public outcry over the fact that some Social Security Disability applicants couldn’t possibly undergo the traditional wait times associated with standard Social Security Disability claims. Under the Compassionate Allowances program, an individual can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits in as few as 10 days. While there were initially only 50 conditions that could qualify an individual for Compassionate Allowances processing, that number has now reached into the hundreds. Congenital lymphedema is one of the conditions that have been added to the SSA’s listing of Compassionate Allowances conditions.
Congenital Lymphedema Condition and Symptoms
Congenital lymphedema is a term given to swelling resulting from abnormalities in the body’s lymphatic system. In order for the condition to be considered congenital, the symptoms must be present from birth. The condition may affect a single limb or can affect several limbs, the face, and/or genitalia. In some cases, the condition is associated with a congenital heart defect.
Symptoms of congenital lymphedema vary from case to case and depend on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms associated with congenital lymphedema include:
- Swelling with a feeling of heaviness, tightness or fullness – usually affecting one or more limbs.
- A dull ache in the affected area of the body.
- A feeling of tightness of the skin surrounding the affected area.
- Difficulty moving or bending the affected limb.
- Chronic skin infections.
- Hard and thickened skin in the affected area.
- Abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid in the tissue of the body.
- Abnormal development of the lymphatic vessels that transports lymphatic fluid.
- Incomplete development of organs.
- Affected limbs may be shorter than unaffected limbs.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Congenital Lymphedema
If you wish to qualify for Compassionate Allowances processing of your Social Security Disability application, you must provide the SSA with certain medical evidence that supports the severity of your condition. If you do not provide this evidence, it may result in a delay of your claim’s processing or even a denial of benefits.
In the case of congenital lymphedema, you must provide the SSA with:
- Biopsy reports documenting lymphatic channel anaplasia.
- CT, MRI or nuclear medicine scans.
- Doppler ultrasonography that evaluates flow in the lymphatic venous systems.
- Proof of heavy, swollen lower or upper limbs.
- Proof of digital anomalies.
- Proof of skin changes such as tightness, thickening and discoloration or hardening.
- Proof of infection.
- Clinical history that describes the diagnostic features of the impairment.
Unfortunately there is no cure for lymphedema. Surgery, when performed, is only palliative. Infections are a severe risk and require prompt care. Patients with lymphedema often undergo procedures that involve compression bandages and manual lymph drainage massage in order to move the extra fluid to other parts of the body, allowing the body to excrete the fluid. Treatment for the condition is only intended to dull the symptoms, not cure the disease.
Congenital Lymphedema and Your Social Security Disability Case
You do not necessarily need an attorney to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. It has been proven, however, that applicants who retain the services of a Social Security attorney are more likely to be awarded benefits than applicants who represent themselves.
It is rare for an application that is based on a Compassionate Allowances listing to be denied, but it has been known to happen. This is usually due to improperly filled out claim forms and a lack of supporting evidence. This can be avoided with the help of a disability lawyer. A disability attorney will know how to prepare your claim so that the SSA understands the severity of your condition and how it qualifies for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.
To find out more about applying for disability benefits due to a case of Congenital Lymphedema or to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability claim, click here.