Ménière's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause vertigo—which is the sensation of spinning or severe dizziness—feelings of congestion in one ear, hearing loss, nausea, and vomiting. For some patients, attacks come on quickly, and then symptoms disappear for an extended period of time. For other patients, multiple attacks can occur more closely together and last over many days. Some people who suffer from Ménière’s disease have extreme cases of vertigo that cause them to fall. These types of episodes are known as “drop attacks.”
While it’s possible for people of all ages to develop Ménière’s disease, it’s more likely to occur in adults aged 40 to 60. According to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 615,000 people in the U.S. have Ménière’s disease, and each year, over 40,000 new cases are diagnosed.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers Ménière's disease serious enough to qualify for disability benefits. This condition is listed in section 2.07 Disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function of the Social Security (SS) Blue Book of Impairments. If your Ménière's disease is severe enough that it prevents you from sustaining gainful employment, you may be eligible for SS disability. However, it’s difficult to prove total disability based on a Ménière's disease diagnosis. That’s why hiring a qualified SS disability attorney can help ensure that your claim has the greatest chance of success.
How to Meet the Listing for Ménière's Disease
When the SSA determines your eligibility for disability benefits, the agency first determines if you’re earning less than $1,020 per month. If you meet that requirement, it then evaluates your condition to see if it meets the requirements of one of its qualifying conditions in the Blue Book of Impairments. If your illness or condition meets those requirements, your claim will likely be approved. Because Ménière's disease is listed in section 2.07 of the Blue Book, your condition will probably qualify for automatic approval if you:
- Have persistent bouts of vertigo
- Experience tinnitus
- Have test results that show a gradual loss of hearing—shown through audiometry tests
- Have caloric and vestibular tests that show “disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth”
You Must Meet the One Year Requirement
To be eligible for disability because of Ménière's disease, your condition must last at least 12 months, consecutively, or your doctor expects your condition will last that long. The problem here is that Ménière's disease often presents suddenly and then disappears, going into remission. For you to prove that your condition meets the time requirement, you need medical records of all of your doctor visits and documentation citing when you first suffered symptoms. This allows the SSA to clearly understand how long you’ve had Ménière's disease and the severity of your condition.
How SSA Views Your Ability to Perform Work
People who suffer from Ménière's disease often experience extreme bouts of vertigo, and this can be hazardous in a work environment. The SSA looks at both physical work and sedentary work when determining benefits eligibility for Ménière's disease.
- Physical work. When you suffer from Ménière's disease, you may not be able to manage physical labor, and you may not be able to perform light work that requires walking. The simple task of walking and moving around can sometimes be challenging and dangerous for those whose balance is compromised.
- Sedentary work. The SSA defines sedentary work as work that requires a person to sit for six hours a day. While this may reduce the risk of a fall due to vertigo, Ménière's disease can still make working at a desk challenging. Because a person with vertigo can experience confusion and dizziness, communication with peers and management can be difficult.
To be eligible for SS benefits, you must have severe and frequent symptoms that exclude you from both physical and sedentary work. Due to the fluctuating nature of the symptoms of Ménière's disease and the lengthy application process, you should apply to SS for disability as soon as you believe you’re suffering from the condition. It is helpful to document your episodes by reording them in a diary or chart.You don’t want to be left without income while you wait for an answer from the SSA.
When You Need Legal Assistance
If you or family members suffer from Ménière's disease or any type of hearing disorder, let us help you with the SS disability claims process. If this disease has negatively affected your life and makes it impossible to work, contact Cuddigan Law at (402) 933-5405. We’ll evaluate your claim to determine if you qualify for benefits.