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For individuals with Meniere’s disease, the symptoms can be a debilitating combination of hearing loss (sometimes permanent), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and vertigo. Bouts of nausea, sometimes to the point of vomiting, often accompany other symptoms, and may last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Although the exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown, it is a disorder which originates in an area of the inner ear known as the vestibular labyrinth. The vestibular labyrinth is a system of fluid filled tubes in our inner ear which helps us maintain our balance. This system provides the brain with information about head movement. If the function of the labyrinth is disrupted for any reason, defective signals are sent to the brain, and then we have trouble maintaining our balance.
For some patients, attacks come on quickly, and then symptoms may vanish for long periods of time. For others, multiple attacks occur closely together and last over many days. Some people who suffer from Meniere’s disease have extreme cases of vertigo that cause them to fall. These types of episodes are known as “drop attacks.”
Although people of all ages can develop Meniere’s disease, it usually first occurs in people during their 40s and 50s. The National Institute on Deafness says that more than 600,000 people in the U.S. have Meniere’s disease, and each year more than 40,000 new cases are diagnosed.
If you suffer from Meniere’s disease, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify for benefits, your condition must be characterized by a history of frequent attacks of balance disturbance, tinnitus, and progressive loss of hearing. You must have your hearing loss documented with tests performed by an audiologist. And you must present medical test results which show a disturbed function of your vestibular labyrinth.
Even if you don’t meet Social Security’s exact criteria for Meniere’s disease, you can win benefits by showing that the effects of the disease, combined with any other medical problems you may have, prevent you from working on a consistent and reliable basis. However, the symptoms of the disease must be so severe that even with treatment you are unable to work. Your impairment must also have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months.
Although total disability based on a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease can be difficult to prove compared with other disabling conditions, working with a qualified Social Security disability attorney will give you the best chance of success. Call us at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation.