Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear characterized by episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, headaches, balance issues, and hearing loss. It affects over 600,000 people in the United States. While it can occur at any time of life, it is more frequent among adults between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. Although some individuals will recover or learn how to control their Ménière’s disease, health experts estimate that forty percent of people diagnosed with Meniere’s disease will suffer from long-term disabling symptoms that prohibit them from working. As with all disability conditions, the impairment must be expected to last for at least twelve months to qualify for benefits.
Listing 2.07 of the Social Security Blue Book covers disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function, including Ménière’s disease. According to the Blue Book, an individual with a disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth established by caloric or other vestibular tests, as well as progressive hearing loss documented by audiometry, meets the criteria for disability under Listing 2.07. Moreover, often those with Ménière’s disease may suffer mood related disorders as a direct result of their illness. An individual with a severe associated diagnosis, such as anxiety disorder or major depression, may also meet a listing in section 12.00 of the Blue Book.
Even if Ménière’s disease does not meet or functionally equal a listing, a finding of disability may still be warranted considering the claimant’s age, education, and past work experience. Past work involving operation of hazardous equipment or dangerous machinery will usually be precluded by the diagnosis of any vestibular dysfunction or balance disorder. If past work is precluded, Social Security Administration does not consider sedentary level jobs after the age of 50, and no longer considers light duty jobs after the age of 55. Thus, while anyone can apply for disability benefits, individuals over the age of 50 have a distinct advantage in qualifying for financial assistance from the Social Security Administration.
As the symptoms of Ménière’s disease often come and go, it can be difficult to prove that your illness meets these requirements. Adequate medical documentation is essential if you want to win your disability case.