Lymphedema is a chronic, painful condition that causes a buildup of excess lymphatic fluid, which is a clear substance that helps remove waste and bacteria from your body. While it can be a result of a birth defect, or congenital, it is often the result of surgery, traumatic injury, or cancer radiation. It is also frequently disabling. Learn more about how you establish your case for Social Security disability benefits based on lymphedema.
Emphasize the problems created by the lymphedema.
When you file your application, it isn't enough to simply state that you have lymphedema and rely on the disability reviewer to understand exactly how that affects you in your day to day life. Since the condition can vary so greatly from person to person, Social Security doesn't focus so much on your actual diagnosis as they do the limitations you have as a result of your condition.
A good way to approach the paperwork is to ask yourself, "How does this limit me from functioning normally?" Aim for a very detailed explanation with specific examples that can help illustrate the problems that you face.
For example, if the lymphedema is in your dominant hand and arm, you might use some of the following examples:
- inability to hold a pen or other small instruments for any length of time or with any dexterity
- difficulty bathing and dressing, particularly if required to button anything or tie anything
- difficulty with grooming, such as brushing your teeth, combing your hair, shaving or applying makeup
- an inability to lift groceries, like a jug of milk, with your dominate hand
The more specific you spell out your limitations, the stronger your case becomes.
Don't forget any secondary conditions caused by the lymphedema.
People with lymphedema often experience secondary conditions as well. It's important that you list those secondary conditions separately from the lymphedema—that allows Social Security to evaluate those as factors when deciding your disability case.
For example, many people with lymphedema also suffer from chronic pain due to the swelling of the affected area. It is also common for people with lymphedema to suffer chronic skin infections, which are painful and difficult to heal. As a result of the pain, you may have difficulty sleeping. The lack of sleep may make it hard for you to concentrate or focus your attention. If this is so, make sure that Social Security understands that you also suffer from chronic pain, sleeplessness, and the inability to concentrate in addition to the lymphedema.
If you're struggling to get your claim approved, consider contacting an attorney who handles Social Security disability claims for assistance.