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Reye's Syndrome and Social Security Benefits

A rare but serious medical condition that is usually seen in children and teens, Reye’s syndrome causes swelling in the liver and brain. If left untreated, the condition is often fatal. Even when treatment is quickly obtained and successful, the condition can have long term and permanent health implications, including liver and brain damage, seizure disorders, and intellectual deficits.

Reye’s syndrome alone is not enough to qualify for disability benefits. However, children, teens, and adults that experience lasting effects from the condition can potentially qualify for benefits through one or both of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs.

Types of Disability Benefits for Children and Adults

The SSA has two disability programs that may be of interest, dependent upon the age, work history, and financial situation of the applicant.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program designed to pay benefits to disabled workers and in some cases to their dependents as well.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program intended to make disability benefits accessible to any disabled individual, regardless of age or work history. This is the program under which children most often receive benefits. Though there is no work history required to qualify, this program does have strict financial eligibility considerations.

Medically Qualifying with Reye’s Syndrome

The SSA maintains listings for commonly disabling conditions in its Blue Book manual. When you submit an application for benefits, they compare your medical records and other application details to the listings in this manual to determine eligibility. To get benefits, you must either:

  • Meet or closely match a listed condition
  • OR

  • Show through other evaluations that functional capacity limitations make you disabled.

Minors and adults that have lasting effects from a bout with Reye’s syndrome may meet or match several listed impairments that appear within the Blue Book. These include:

  • Chronic Liver Disease – Sections 105.05 and 5.05
  • Brain Damage – Section 11.04
  • Intellectual Deficits – Sections 112.05 and 12.05
  • Seizure Disorders – Sections 111.02, 111.03, 11.02, and 11.03

People who cannot meet a listing in the Blue Book may still be able to receive benefits by showing severe limitations in functional capacity. For this to happen, the SSA must complete a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) analysis.

Through this analysis, the SSA looks at how all of the applicant’s medical conditions affect everyday life. This includes the affect of medical issues on the ability of adults to hold a job or for children to participate in age appropriate activities.

Getting Help with Your Claim

Because Reye’s syndrome alone is not sufficient for qualifying for Social Security Disability, many applicants are initially denied benefits when they apply based on the effects of this rare but serious medical condition.

Work closely with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician to thoroughly document the full effects of all your medical issues, including those that may not be related to Reye’s syndrome. The SSA will consider all of your medical conditions when determining eligibility.

You may also want to consider seeking help from a Social Security advocate or attorney. He or she can help you build a strong case file. If you are denied benefits, an advocate or attorney’s assistance in filing an appeal and preparing for an appeal hearing can be invaluable.