Social Security Disability and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Written by John Horn. Posted in Blogs, Social Security Disability

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a cluster of genetic disorders related to hypermobility. Depending on the type of Ehlers-Danlos you have and the severity of your symptoms, it can be quite disabling — especially as you age.

How do you present your symptoms and medical information in a way that Social Security claims examiners will understand it? That’s a critical question because Ehlers-Danlos isn’t something that they’re particularly familiar with since it’s a relatively rare disorder. Here are tips that can help.

Remember That a Diagnosis Doesn’t Equal a Disability

You can’t get Social Security Disability just because you have a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Because Ehlers-Danlos has a wide variety of symptoms, you have to explain exactly how the disorder affects your life and limits you from working.

Use Examples to Demonstrate Your Limitations

Specific examples of your limitations are best when it comes to illustrating the effects of Ehlers-Danlos on your daily life.

Tell the claims examiner, for example, how your joint pain flared up after an hour on the line at your factory job and made it impossible for you to keep pace with the other workers. Talk about how the smallest scrapes or cuts on your cleaning job turned into major infections that left you laid up for weeks.

The more clarifying details and work complications you provide to illustrate your disability from the disorder, the easier it will be to gain an approval for benefits.

Discuss the Limitations Caused by Chronic Pain

Pain is a major problem for Ehlers-Danlos patients. Your overly-flexible joints can pop in and out of place far too easily, and arthritis pain can be unrelenting. Your disorder makes treatment difficult because traditional physical therapy and exercises that help others with arthritis can actually make your condition worse.

However, you can’t rely on the Social Security Disability examiner to know that unless you tell him or her. You need to go into detail about how bad your pain really is.

Explain what makes your Ehlers-Danlos worse (like physical activity, weather changes, fatigue, lifting, carrying, standing, and walking) and what makes it better (like rest and medication). Give examples of what you can no longer do because of the pain you suffer.

Discuss the Fatigue You Experience

Fatigue is another common symptom of Ehlers-Danlos and tends to go hand-in-hand with the joint pain that victims suffer. Again, however, Social Security isn’t required to consider how fatigue affects you unless you specifically mention it in your application as part of your disabling condition.

Explain, for example, how the pain that you experience in your joints often interferes with your ability to sleep through the night — or leaves you feeling as if you didn’t get any quality sleep. Explain how the fatigue affects your ability to concentrate on tasks while you are awake or use critical thinking skills.

Don’t Forget the Problems With Skin Infections

Because victims of Ehlers-Danlos often have problems with their skin, including serious infections and scarring from just the smallest wounds, you want to detail any problems that you’ve experienced.

In particular, let Social Security know if you’ve had to take time off work because of infections you’ve contracted through your broken skin, or if you have ulcers on your skin or other problems with healing. Don’t forget to mention any vascular issues you’ve had, including broken blood vessels and bleeding.

Gaining an approval for Social Security Disability benefits for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome isn’t impossible — but you should seek help from an attorney who handles Social Security Disability claims before you start. To make sure that you have all the medical evidence that you need to support your case and all of the necessary information on your application, contact Horn & Kelley P.C., Attorneys at Law for assistance.


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