Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition in which the simple act of getting up from a seated or lying down position causes a severe jump in heart rate. While it’s not uncommon to experience a brief spell of dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up too quickly, individuals with POTS suffer from a range of additional symptoms — including headache, nausea, fatigue and more.
The cause of POTS is unknown, although the condition can be triggered by other illnesses such as Lyme disease or mononucleosis, or even by pregnancy. In some cases, POTS will disappear or get better over time — other individuals may suffer from the condition for life.
POTS is difficult to diagnose, making it hard to assess its impact and the frequency of its occurrence. In severe cases, however, the condition can be debilitating enough to prevent someone from working to support themselves. If you have an especially bad case of POTS, you may qualify for disability benefits that can improve your quality of life as you work to manage the condition.
Federal Disability Programs
Individuals with POTS may apply for benefits from one of two federal programs. SSDI — Social Security Disability Insurance — is available to anyone who has worked and paid a given amount into Social Security in the past. If you have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI, the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) program is available based on financial need. Both programs use the same criteria for determining whether or not a case of POTS is severe enough to warrant benefits.
How to Get Disability Benefits for POTS
The Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of diseases qualifying for disability contains no specific entry for POTS. However, individuals with severe cases that limit their ability to work may qualify under the cardiovascular, neurological or digestive categories. The key to mounting a successful application is to provide ample medical evidence tracking your symptoms over time and demonstrating that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working.
The decision maker in your claim will need to complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment as part of your application for disability with POTS. This is a standard form that is filled out either by your doctor or a medical examiner to assess your capacity to work based on the severity of your symptoms and your educational/employment history. If it is determined that there are no jobs you could realistically obtain and perform without jeopardizing your health, your application for benefits may be approved.
Denied Disability Benefits for POTS?
POTS is not listed in the Blue Book, or SSA’s guide of disabling conditions. In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must be able to show that your disability prevents you from working in a traditional career field or in a job for which you are otherwise qualified. You must also prove your condition is long lasting, meaning it is permanent or is expected to last longer than a year.
The challenge with POTS is that you may be able to work with the condition, and you may have periods when your symptoms improve. While it is possible to prove you are disabled and qualify for disability, gathering the evidence may be more challenging than it might be for a patient whose condition is listed in the Blue Book. This is especially true if you can work with your condition, even part of the time. You may qualify for disability, but you must prove you meet the SSA definitions of disability.
If you work with a disability attorney such as Lisa M. Ritacco, she may ascertain what medical records you need to strengthen your case if you have been denied benefits. Contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco to find out more about what you can do.
Proving Eligibility for POTS Disability Benefits
To prove you are eligible for disability, you must show that POTS symptoms such as fainting, extreme fatigue and racing heart prevent you from working or completing everyday activities. Working with a doctor who can document your symptoms and their severity may help. You may also submit evidence of hospitalization.
In many cases, it may be appropriate to complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) report form. You can work with your doctor to complete this form, which evaluates how your POTS affects your ability to work and perform everyday tasks.
The RFC report, along with medical documentation of your condition, may help establish your disability. You may also want to work with a disability attorney to ensure your RFC is accurate and fully establishes the severity of your condition, in line with the Social Security Regulations. If the RFC does not adequately do this, the SSA may conclude you can perform light office work or other lighter duties — and thus may deny you benefits.
If you are concerned about properly documenting your disability or if you have been denied benefits, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco for a consultation. Or, if you are newly diagnosed with POTS and are applying for disability benefits, the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco can help.
Many people who apply for benefits for the first time are denied benefits. Working with a disability attorney like Lisa M. Ritacco can help ensure you apply correctly and with the documentation that presents the strongest evidence of your disability. If you have been denied benefits, the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco may review your application to determine ways to strengthen your claim.
Contact Ritacco Disability Law for Assistance
Applying for disability benefits for POTS isn’t easy. Many claimants are rejected the first time they try. While it may be possible to appeal a decision, having a disability lawyer to help with your initial application may greatly improve your chances for success. To find out more, contact Ritacco Disability Law to arrange your free consultation with one of our POTS Social Security disability benefits lawyers.