Transverse myelitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding nerve cell fibers in the spine, called myelin. This inflammation can lead to paralysis or reduced feeling. In many cases, transverse myelitis lasts a few weeks or months. However some cases will persist for a year or longer.
Transverse myelitis is often caused by viral infections or immune system disorders, which cause the immune system to attack tissues produced by the body. The inflammation of the myelin is the body’s normal response to tissue damage. Sometimes, transverse myelitis will occur as a complication of another health condition, such as multiple sclerosis.
The symptoms of transverse myelitis will occur rather rapidly, and can range from very mild to severely debilitating. Upper and lower extremities may begin to feel weak and the individual may lose feeling in parts of the body. Other times, the individual will experience strange sensations, such as temperature shifts or pins and needles. Pain, particularly in the lower back or wherever the spinal cord is affected, is also a common sign of transverse myelitis. In many cases, transverse myelitis will also cause bladder paralysis or bladder numbness, which can lead to incontinence or other urological difficulties.
Transverse myelitis is diagnosed using examinations of nerve functions, MRIs, and blood tests. The symptoms of the condition are usually managed through pain medications and steroids to reduce the inflammation. After the initial onset, the individual may require physical therapy, however treatment will ultimately depend on the severity of the case and how long the symptoms persist.
Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits with Transverse Myelitis
While there is no specific listing for Transverse Myelitis in the Blue Book, you may be able to qualify under a listing in Section 11.00 Neurological disorders. The applicable listings include: Section 11.08—Spinal Cord or Nerve Root Lesions or Section 11.09—Multiple Sclerosis.
Both of these listings borrow criteria from the stroke listing, 11.04—Central Nervous System Vascular Accident (stroke). To qualify under this listing, there must be marked disorganization of motor function in two extremities resulting in the inability to walk or move efficiently. The listing for multiple sclerosis also requires that the applicant experience sensory impairment and fatigue of motor function. If you do not meet either of these listings, but experience transverse myelitis as a result of another condition—such as lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome—you may qualify under a listing associated with that condition.
Applying for Social Security benefits with transverse myelitis may be difficult because there is no specific listing associated with the condition. If you cannot meet any blue book listings, you will also be assessed for a medical vocational allowance, which allows you to receive benefits because a health condition keeps you from working. The assessment takes into consideration your age, education, prior jobs, and how much functionality you have despite your condition, to see if there is other work you can do.
Remember, you will only qualify for disability benefits if your transverse myelitis is severely disabling and long-lasting.
Your Transverse Myelitis Disability Case
If you are having trouble understanding the application or the requirements, you should look into hiring an attorney or advocate who specializes in disability claims. These lawyers can help you select the appropriate benefits program and can help you collect all of the SSA’s required documents and materials. They will also be able to present your disability case for you. Because the application process is difficult and most applicants are turned down, an attorney specializing in disability advocacy can increase your chances of an approval. To speak with an attorney or advocate for free, fill out the form on the following page: Free Legal Evaluation.