Yes, Dysautonomia can be considered a disability under certain circumstances. Depending on the severity of the condition and its impact on an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and work, dysautonomia may qualify as a disability.

To determine eligibility for disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates the functional limitations caused by dysautonomia and how it affects an individual’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Medical evidence and documentation from healthcare professionals play a crucial role in supporting a dysautonomia disability claim.

What is Dysautonomia?

Dysautonomia is a medical condition affecting the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls and regulates involuntary bodily functions. Without conscious effort, The ANS manages essential bodily processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, digestion, and respiratory rate.

Symptoms of Dysautonomia

Dysautonomia can manifest with a wide range of symptoms, and the severity and combination of symptoms can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of dysautonomia include:

  • Orthostatic Intolerance: Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting upon standing, known as orthostatic hypotension or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).
  • Excessive Sweating or Lack of Sweating: Abnormal sweating patterns, including excessive or inability to sweat.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or difficulty swallowing.
  • Fatigue: Chronic fatigue or feeling exhausted, even after minor activities.
  • Headaches: Recurrent headaches or migraines.
  • Brain Fog or Cognitive Impairment: Difficulty concentrating, memory problems, or mental fogginess.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Blurred Vision or Vision Changes: Vision problems, such as blurred vision or difficulty focusing.
  • Anxiety or Panic Attacks: Increased anxiety or panic attacks, especially during symptomatic episodes.

What are the 15 types of Dysautonomia?

While there are more than 15 types of dysautonomia, some of the most common and well-known types include:

  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS): Characterized by an abnormal increase in heart rate upon standing.
  • Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS): Involves fainting or syncope caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.
  • Vasovagal Syncope: Triggers fainting due to emotional distress, pain, or prolonged standing, leading to a drop in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Autonomic Neuropathy: Nerve damage affects the autonomic nerves, leading to various autonomic dysfunctions.
  • Multiple System Atrophy (MSA): A rare and progressive disorder affecting various parts of the nervous system, leading to autonomic dysfunction and movement and coordination problems.
  • Pure Autonomic Failure (PAF): Involves the degeneration of autonomic nerves, leading to multiple autonomic symptoms.
  • Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy (AAG): An autoimmune disorder that targets the autonomic ganglia, leading to autonomic dysfunction.
  • Familial Dysautonomia (FD): A genetic disorder that affects the development and function of the autonomic nervous system.
  • Horner’s Syndrome: Involves damage to specific nerves, leading to a combination of symptoms, including drooping eyelids, pupil constriction, and decreased sweating.
  • Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction (CIP): A condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract, leading to motility issues.
  • Orthostatic Intolerance Syndromes: A group of disorders characterized by difficulty maintaining blood pressure upon standing.
  • Baroreflex Failure: Involves the inability to appropriately regulate blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Autoimmune Autonomic Neuropathy (AAN): An autoimmune disorder that affects autonomic nerves.
  • Postganglionic Autonomic Failure: Characterized by damage to postganglionic autonomic nerves.
  • Central Autonomic Disorders: Conditions affecting the central nervous system and its regulation of autonomic functions.

Can You Get Disability Benefits for Dysautonomia?

Yes, it is possible to get disability benefits for dysautonomia if the condition significantly impairs your ability to work for at least 12 months or more. The SSA will assess whether your condition meets the criteria outlined in the “Blue Book (the SSA’s official listing of impairments) or is equivalent to a listed condition qualifying for disability benefits.

Eligibility Criteria for Dystonomia Disability

To be eligible for disability benefits based on dysautonomia, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria. The SSA evaluates dysautonomia under the listing for Dysautonomia, Section 4.06, in the “Blue Book“. It is a comprehensive guide to medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits.

To meet the eligibility criteria for dysautonomia disability, you must have objective medical evidence that demonstrates the following:

  • Chronic Dysautonomia: Your dysautonomia must be chronic, meaning it has persisted or is expected to persist for at least 12 months.
  • Inability to Stand Up from a Seated Position: You must have significant difficulty standing up from a seated position due to dizziness, lightheadedness, or a drop in blood pressure.
  • Inability to Stand for Extended Periods: You must have significant difficulty standing for an extended period, leading to an inability to carry out daily activities.
  • Low Blood Volume: Your medical records should show evidence of a persistently low blood volume (hypovolemia) verified by medical testing, such as a tilt table test.
  • Tachycardia or Bradycardia: Your heart rate should show evidence of either tachycardia (a heart rate of more than 120 beats per minute) or bradycardia (a heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute).

What if I meet the eligibility criteria for dysautonomia disability?

If you meet the eligibility criteria of SSA, you may be eligible to receive dysautonomia disability benefits, which can provide much-needed financial support and access to essential resources. Here are the potential outcomes if you meet the eligibility criteria:

  • Approval for Disability Benefits: If the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that your dysautonomia meets the disability criteria outlined in the “Blue Book” or is equivalent to a listed impairment, you will be approved for disability benefits. 
  • Continuing Disability Review (CDR): Sometimes, the SSA may approve your disability benefits for a specific period, subject to a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). During a CDR, the SSA will periodically review your medical condition to assess whether your dysautonomia meets the disability criteria. 
  • Appeal Process: If your initial disability claim is denied, you can appeal the decision. An appeal involves requesting a reconsideration, attending a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, and further levels of appeal if necessary.
  • Medical Improvement: If your condition improves to the point where you no longer meet the disability criteria, you may no longer be eligible for disability benefits. However, the SSA will consider your medical improvement and may provide a transition period or work incentives to gradually facilitate your return to work.

Dysautonomia Benefits Denied? Contact a disability lawyer?

A Social Security disability lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the process of applying for dysautonomia disability benefits. They possess in-depth knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria and the complex medical evidence required for approval. They can communicate with the SSA and navigate potential appeals if your initial claim is denied.