Can You be Awarded Disability Benefits for Meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection that affects the delicate membranes—called meninges -—that cover the brain and spinal cord. The disease is not common, with only about 200,000 cases per year in the U.S., and it may arise from a variety of causes. The most serious form of the disease is caused by bacteria. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening or lead to brain damage unless treated quickly. Meningitis caused by a virus is the most common form of the disease and although generally less serious than bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis can still cause significant health problems. Other—rarer—sources of meningitis include fungus, parasites, and amoebas.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes meningitis as a disability that in some cases qualifies for monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. To determine if you are medically eligible for disability benefits Social Security has a set of procedures in place. These procedures are published in a handbook known as the “Blue Book,” and it includes a list of various disabling conditions known as “listings.” The criteria for benefits approval for meningitis fall under the listing for immune deficiency disorders—Listing 14.07. To meet the criteria for this listing, “your infection must either be resistant to treatment or require hospitalization or intravenous treatment three or more times in a 12-month period.”
Most often, an applicant’s medical conditions will not precisely meet the Blue Book’s technical requirements to qualify for disability payments. But, there is a second way to qualify. You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you can prove that, due to the limitations of your condition, you are unable to perform any job in the national economy, considering your age, education, and past work.
To qualify, you must demonstrate that the symptoms of your impairment(s) prevent you from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis. All qualifying disabilities must be expected to last and keep you out of work for at least 12 months.
To prove that meningitis prevents you from maintaining fulltime employment, it is very important to ask your doctor to explain your medical situation, oftentimes using a form called the “Residual Functional Capacity” (RFC) form. The RFC form measures your physical abilities, and it allows your doctor to explain how your medical conditions limit you from working. The Social Security Administration will consider the RFC form along with other medical evidence to decide whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
If you have or have had meningitis and your condition has made it impossible for you to hold a job on a full-time basis, contact us at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation. We can help you navigate through the complex SSA disability claims process and advise you on the best way to file a Social Security disability claim.