Meniere's disease, named after the French physician Prosper Meniere, is caused by disturbances in the inner ear and can lead to periodic episodes of vertigo and a sickening feeling of spinning out of control. Menieres sufferers can also experience hearing loss, tinnitus, and ear pressure. The disease can affect one or both ears and is most common in older adults ages forty to fifty.
Common Symptoms of Meniere's disease
Meniere's disease can lead to chronic conditions which may not be alleviated with treatment but can be minimized. Common symptoms of the condition include:
Loss of hearing
Feeling of fullness
Pressure in the affected ear
Medical treatment should be sought immediately for any of the above conditions. A doctor can evaluate you condition and determine the duration, frequency, severity, and character of your attacks. A doctor will also evaluate your medical history and determine if you have suffered from any other serious condition such as mumps, syphilis, inflammation of the eyes, an autoimmune disorder or allergies.
Medical tests should also be completed including balance tests (Electronystagmography (ENG), an audiometric examination to determine the degree of hearing loss, and other tests including Computer Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Electrocochleography (ECoG), which measures your inner ear fluid pressure, and an auditory brain response (ABR) test, which will evaluate the hearing nerves and brain pathway.
Treatment for Meniere's disease
There is no current cure for Meniere's disease. Certain types of medical treatments, however, may improve your condition including changes in your diet and medications, eliminating the use of tobacco, and lowering your stress levels. Other aggressive treatments include performing a Labyrinthectomy, which removes a part of the inner ear sense organ, or a vestibular neurectomy, which severs the nerve from the affected ear.
Meniere's disease and winning SSDI benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is offered to claimants who have a severe health condition which is expected to last 12 continuous months and does not allow the claimant to perform substantial work.
Claimants who have Meniere's disease must have medical evidence that their condition is chronic and will last 12 continuous months. They also must prove that they have received all available treatment, and due to the severity of their condition, they remain unable to work.
Am I disabled with Meniere's disease?
To make this determination the SSA will first review the claimants condition and determine if it meets a listing outlined in the SSA listing of impairments.
Meniere's disease is evaluated under 2.00 Special Senses and Speech, Section 2.07 Disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function. Specifically, the SSA will determine if the claimant has disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth demonstrated by caloric or other vestibular tests and hearing loss established by audiometry.
When evaluating the severity of your Meniere's disease. The SSA will review your disturbances of balance and determine the degree to which they are characterized by a hallucination of motion or a loss of position sense and a sensation of dizziness which may be constant or may occur in paroxysmal attacks. Nausea, vomiting, ataxia, and incapacitation are frequently observed, particularly during the acute attack.
If your condition is not as severe as the listing it will be more difficult to win benefits and you will likely be denied the first time you apply. Talk to a disability lawyer if you have questions about your chances of winning SSDI benefits.