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Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome and SSDI?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I recently had a heart attack and the pain has gotten worse over time. The doctors believe I may have reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. If I never get better and I am not able to return to work what are my options?”


What is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome?

Individuals may experience Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome after they have experienced some type of injury, a stroke or a heart attack. It’s an unusual condition which causes complex regional pain which is out of proportion with the initial injury, causing the pain to get worse over time instead of better. Unfortunately, there is no current cure for the condition, although medical experts may be able to improve the pain, especially if it is detected and treated early. What are the symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy? Unfortunately, the reasons reflex sympathetic dystrophy occur are not clear, for this reason it may be difficult to diagnose. There are, however, common signs and symptoms in those individuals who suffer from this condition including: Although these are the most common symptoms, they may change over time, and they are likely to differ from individual to individual. Many symptoms may also worsen over time or spread to other areas of the body. Unfortunately, after certain changes occur they cannot be reversed. Can I get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy? Claimants who have a severe health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months and who have earned sufficient work credits to be considered insured may qualify for SSDI benefits. To win benefits for any condition you will need to either meet a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (a listing of common conditions and symptoms the SSA considers disabling) or prove you do not have the capacity to work. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is not a listed condition so you will have to either prove it is as severe as a listed condition or does not allow you to work for at least 12 continuous months. To do this you will need to:
  1. Get a diagnosis for your condition.
  2. Prove that your condition is severe and will not improve. Evidence can include medical observations, details about the treatment you have received, your response to treatment, complications of treatment, and a detailed description of how the impairment limits the your ability to function and perform sustained work activity.
Bottom Line: It is possible to win SSDI benefits for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy but you will have to prove the condition and its intensity and persistence limits your ability to work. Your claim must also be substantiated not just be your statements, but also by medical signs, laboratory findings and statements, and other information provided by your treating physicians or psychologists. Recent blog: Getting Social Security Disability for Depression