Can You Receive Disability for Intracranial Hypertension? Yes, there is disability benefits available for people with Intracranial hypertension. Intracranial hypertension, also known as pseudotumor cerebri, is a rare condition related to high fluid pressure in the brain. It occurs when the fluid protecting the brain and spinal cord starts to accumulate in the skull instead of being absorbed as it should be, resulting in dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, and even vision loss.
When you’ve been diagnosed with a rare disease that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if certain criteria are met. At Bross & Frankel, PA, we care about our clients and are committed to helping them access the financial benefits and medical care they need. Although applications can be more challenging for rare diseases like intracranial hypertension, we have the background and experience needed to secure an ideal outcome for you.
What Causes Intracranial Hypertension?
Intracranial hypertension/pseudotumor cerebri affects approximately one in 100,000 of the U.S. population. Women aged 20 to 44 who weigh 20% over their ideal weight are 20 times more likely to develop this disease, although it can affect both genders and all body types.
There are two types of intracranial hypertension:
- Primary: In primary intracranial hypertension, also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension, there is no known cause. The condition is known to occur in young, overweight women during their reproductive years.
- Secondary: Secondary intracranial hypertension has a known cause, such as tetracycline antibiotics drugs, sleep apnea, and certain systemic illnesses like leukemia and meningitis.
The exact cause of intracranial hypertension remains unknown. According to one theory, it may be caused by excess cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid, which is normally responsible for providing essential nutrients to the brain and spinal cord, also removes toxins and impurities while cushioning the spinal cord and the brain.
The body absorbs cerebrospinal fluid through the blood vessels during normal circulatory processes. When too much fluid is produced, it accumulates around the brain and spinal cord. The skull is an enclosed space, so there is no outflow, which eventually results in increased pressure around the brain, followed by potentially debilitating symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Intracranial Hypertension?
What are the Symptoms of Intracranial Hypertension? As the fluid pressure in your skull increases, you can suffer blinding headaches behind the eye area, dizziness, and periodic vision loss, the latter of which is one of the condition’s biggest disabling impacts. Other symptoms include
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Blurred and/or double vision
- Flashes within the field of vision
- Neck stiffness
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, or back
- Depression and anxiety
While treatable, intracranial hypertension has a tendency to recur, impacting your ability to work as well as your quality of life.
How is Intracranial Hypertension Diagnosed?
How is Intracranial Hypertension Diagnosed? An intracranial hypertension diagnosis is made based on a patient’s symptoms, as well as various tests and assessments. Diagnostic tests may include:
- Retinal Testing: An eye examination is crucial since raised intracranial pressure can negatively affect your vision. A specialist can examine your visual fields first and, if necessary, check for swelling of the optic nerve, a condition known as papilledema.
- CT Scans: A computed tomography (CT) scan can detect abnormal fluid in the ventricles of your brain. A CT scan may also reveal changes in the pituitary gland, which may indicate intracranial hypertension. A fluid buildup in the ventricles or a problem with your pituitary gland can increase your skull’s pressure. These abnormalities may indicate that spinal fluid weight is high.
- MRI: In an MRI, brain images are captured with the help of a powerful magnet. There is no use of X-rays or other radiation in this technology. MRIs can detect abnormalities, such as increased pressure in the skull. Specialists can also monitor significant veins in the brain for blood clots.
- Fluid Weight Tests: Generally, imaging tests are performed to rule out tumors or other serious medical conditions. When there doesn’t appear to be a brain tumor present, the doctor will check the weight of your cerebrospinal fluid. A patient with intracranial hypertension has an increased fluid weight, but the fluid itself is normal.
Treatment may include weight loss, salt and fluid restrictions, and medications like furosemide, corticosteroids, or Topiramate. Depending on your condition and symptoms, surgery may be performed to decrease the buildup of spinal fluid, open narrowed venous sinuses that are blocking cerebrospinal fluid flow, or reduce the pressure on the optic nerve.
Can You Receive Disability for Intracranial Hypertension?
Can You Receive Disability for Intracranial Hypertension? Yes, when intracranial hypertension prevents you from performing any type of work, you may be classified as disabled and therefore eligible for one of the SSA’s disability programs:
- If you worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and medical benefits through Medicare.
- If you have minimal or no work history, you could apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which also provides access to Medicaid.
To qualify for disability benefits for intracranial pressure, you must demonstrate that your symptoms are severe enough to keep you from holding a full-time job and expected to last at least 12 months or end in death. You may be able to get benefits if your vision is 20/200 or poorer, as this impairment is addressed in Section 2.02 – Loss of Central Visual Acuity and 2.04 – Loss of Visual Efficiency of the SSA Blue Book, which is its manual of disabling impairments.
- To qualify under Section 2.02—Loss of Central Visual Acuity, your eyesight must be worse than 20/200 even after surgery or while wearing glasses or contacts.
- Section 2.04—Loss of Visual Efficiency or Visual Impairment requires you to have either a visual efficiency percentage of 20 or less or a visual impairment value of 1.00 or greater after correction.
If you don’t meet a condition listed in the Blue Book, you may still be able to qualify for benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. The SSA will review whether you can do any of your past jobs. If not, it will determine whether there is any work you might be able to do based on your age, education, and work history. If nothing can be found, a medical vocational allowance should be granted.
For example, if you suffer from dizziness, you may not be able to work around machinery, lift and carry heavy items, or even stand for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Similarly, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, or severe headaches would prevent you from working in a sedentary setting because they would affect both the consistency and quality of your work.
How to Apply for Disability for Intracranial Hypertension
When you apply for disability benefits for intracranial hypertension, you will need to complete the Social Security Disability report form, which will ask you for the following information:
- Your name, address, and phone number
- The contact information for your treating physicians
- Dates of treatment
- Any medications that you may be taking, as well as the doctors who prescribed them
- Details regarding the type of work you’ve performed and what your five most recent jobs were
You should also obtain copies of your medical records. Even though the SSA can obtain medical records on your behalf, having them available with your application can help expedite your claim and speed up the approval process.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get Disability for Intracranial Hypertension?
Although you are not legally required to use a disability attorney, it’s definitely recommended. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicated that those who hired a lawyer to help them with their disability claims were three times more likely to win benefits than those who did not.
Many applicants are concerned about whether they can afford legal representation. Attorneys who handle Social Security disability cases actually work “on contingency,” which means they are only paid if they win the case. You and your lawyer will enter into a fee agreement that must be approved by the SSA. Once approved, the SSA will pay your attorney directly out of your back pay. You and the attorney can agree on any fee as long as it does not exceed the lesser of $6,000 or 25% of your back pay.
If a disability case requires multiple hearings or an appeal to the Appeals Council or federal court, a disability lawyer can file a fee petition with SSA to request more than the $6,000 maximum. Upon reviewing the fee petition, Social Security will approve it only if it is reasonable.
At Bross & Frankel, PA, we know how to present your case in the most favorable light. When you originally apply, we can explain the necessary disability qualifications, help you complete the application, and present medical evidence in a way that the SSA will find persuasive.
Get a Free Consultation From an SSA Disability Lawyer
When you’re seeking disability for intracranial hypertension, there may be special challenges involved because it’s not a listed condition in the SSA Blue Book. Instead, you will have to rely on meeting a listing based on specific symptoms or being approved for a medical vocational allowance. In either case, you want to work with a Social Security Disability lawyer who understands what you’re up against and is ready to fight for your future.
At Bross & Frankel, PA, we know that you’re relying on disability benefits to pay your living expenses and access medical care. For years, we have been helping clients across Southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware overcome the obstacles inherent to the application process and win the benefits that provide them and their families with peace of mind. To schedule your free consultation with a disability lawyer, call 856-210-3345 or contact us online.