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Vertigo and Social Security Disability

When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your case thoroughly, evaluating both the medical as well as the technical situations before a decision is rendered. If you have been diagnosed with vertigo, you could possibly qualify for Social Security disability benefits, depending upon the severity of your condition and how it impacts your ability to function normally.

If you are approved for disability benefits, the SSA will pay you and your certain dependents monthly benefits. In order to be eligible for benefits, you have had to have worked enough to earn enough credits by having paid in the minimal required amount of Social Security taxes. Your medical condition, which in this case would be vertigo, would have to be severe enough that it has rendered you permanently and completely disabled so you no longer can perform your regular work duties.

If your vertigo is not considered severe enough by itself, it may be combined with any other medical conditions that you have to make you eligible for benefits. Multiple medical conditions can sometimes either meet or exceed the requirements that have been set forth by the SSA to make an individual legally disabled according to the Blue Book guidelines.

Vertigo

Financial Expenses Related to Vertigo

According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, emergency room expenses related to severe dizziness have increased significantly in recent year with the cost reaching as high as $4.4 billion. Part of the added expense is the result of ER physicians routinely ordering CT scans to determine whether or not the dizziness is the result of a stroke. The researchers argued that simple bedside physical exams could determine whether a patient needs the additional imaging.

Vertigo can be caused by a variety of underlying medical conditions, ranging from inner ear disorders to stroke to chronic vertigo. Many times the vertigo goes hand in hand with another chronic disorder. Of course, regardless of the cause, vertigo requires visits to the physician which results in copays, prescription costs and hospital visits and laboratory testing all of which come with copays and deductibles resulting in financial burdens for those who suffer from the condition.

The SSA Evaluation and Medical Qualifications for Vertigo

Vertigo is a kind of dizziness, which gives the patient the sensation that you are spinning or rocking even when you are sitting completely still. There are times when you my feel that you're being rotated, or that everything around you is spinning. It can happen spontaneously or it can result from an injury. Episodes may last a few hours, or in some cases even days before they are resolved. While many people suffer from vertigo, defining whether it is central or peripheral in cause plays a significant role in prognosis.

Vertigo that is peripheral in nature results from inner ear problems. These problems can include ringing in the ear, hearing loss, illness, inflammation or a head injury. Those instances that are central in nature are the result of a problem in the spinal cord or brain caused by an injury to the central nervous system’s balance centers. There are some diseases that can impact the balance centers as well.

Vertigo can cause a variety of symptoms or side effects, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Unsteadiness

According to the SSA's Blue Book listing of impairments, vertigo is listed under Section 2.0--Special Senses and Speech. Part B, otolaryngology, 2 vertigo, specifies that:

“Vertigo associated with disturbances of labyrinthine—vestibular function, including Meniere's disease. These disturbances of balance are characterized by a hallucination of motion or a loss of position sense and a sensation of dizziness, which may be constant or may occur in paroxysmal attacks. Nausea, vomiting, ataxia, and incapacitation are frequently observed, particularly during the acute attack. It is important to differentiate the report of rotary vertigo from that of “dizziness” which is described as light-headedness, unsteadiness, confusion, or syncope.”

Different patients suffer varying levels of vertigo, so one patient may be rendered disabled while another patient may get sufficient relief from medications prescribed by his or her physician.

Getting Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits with an RFC

Just because your vertigo does not automatically approve you for disability benefits does not mean you cannot still get approval using an RFC and other documentation. A doctor completes the residual functioning capacity form (RFC) in vivid detail, detailing how your vertigo and any other medical conditions combined impact your ability to work.

They will look at not only your ability to perform your past work but to transfer any skills to another kind of work as well. Several things are taken into consideration in regards to whether your skills can be transferred and you can do a different kind of employment. The RFC will indicate how much you can lift, how long you can stand, how long you can sit, your ability to bend, reach and grasp.

The Disability Determination Services staff will also look at your past line of work, any skills you have obtained at that work, your age, your educational level and what skills could be transferred into another line of work. If your vertigo onsets suddenly and could be a danger to you or others, that will also have to be considered when they are determining if you can perform some other kind of work.

Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Vertigo

There are medical tests that your physician may order to confirm your diagnosis of vertigo and how it will impact your ability to function. These tests may also determine the cause of the vertigo or how it is impacted by underlying medical conditions. These tests may be beneficial in helping you with your claim for benefits.

The SSA can order additional testing at their expense to determine whether they think your medical records are accurate, your representation of the problem and its severity are accurate and if you are able to work or not. Usually, the medical evaluations ordered by the SSA involve seeing a physician and doing basic lab work. Sometimes a mental evaluation may be ordered as well to see if the problem has caused depression or anxiety.

Regardless, the medical evaluation process may even help your claim’s credibility even more. If vertigo has prevented you from working, continue through the claims process until you appear before an administrative law judge. Just because your initial claim is denied or a medical evaluation is ordered does not mean that you won’t win approval in the long run.