Guillain-Barré syndrome is a potentially serious autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system. The disorder can cause widespread tingling and weakness in the extremities. It can also result in debilitating pain and paralysis. Depending upon the cause and severity of the syndrome, the symptoms may dissipate after a few weeks or persist for months or several years. This is a common scenario for people who also have disorders like lupus. Severe, long-term symptoms, such as chronic pain, limited mobility and difficulty breathing, may make it impossible for you to work. As a result, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a medical condition affecting the nervous system that can cause muscle weakness, numbness and a loss of reflexes. Experts have not determined the cause of this autoimmune disease that typically begins after a bacterial or viral infection. This suggests that the disorder may be caused by an improper immune system response to a previous illness. The syndrome causes the immune system to attack the myelin sheath covering certain nerves, which results in nerve damage. Along with tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, you may experience muscle weakness in your arms and legs as well as difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing. Other symptoms include back pain, and not being able to move your eyes.
Older adults and men are more likely develop the disorder. The condition is diagnosed through a comprehensive physical examination and a review of your recent medical history. Your doctor may also perform tests like a nerve conduction study or lumbar puncture. When Guillain-Barré syndrome is suspected, the condition is typically treated in a hospital setting during the first few weeks to ensure that the weakness does not spread to the heart or other muscles that control respiration and blood pressure. There is no known cure.
Although most people suffering from this rare condition recover with few lasting problems, the syndrome can lead to difficulty walking, severe lower back pain and a loss of bladder control as well as trouble breathing, paralysis and death. If these severe symptoms persist long-term, you may not be able to work. The chronic pain, breathing issues and limited mobility may qualify you for Social Security (SSA) disability benefits.
The SSA blue book outlines the agency’s criteria for determining an individual’s eligibility for benefits. The symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome are evaluated under several different categories, including lupus, lymphoma and AIDS. You may qualify for benefits under one of these categories if Guillain-Barré syndrome worsens the symptoms of these conditions.
You may also qualify for SSD benefits if certain symptoms caused by Guillain-Barré syndrome alone are sufficient. These include a major dysfunction of a joint that has caused significant damage or discomfort so that it is difficult to walk or use your arms and hands. If the condition has caused chronic respiratory problems that lead to limited oxygen intake, you may also qualify based on a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
When applying for SSD benefits, it is important that you provide supporting medical documentation. This includes a diagnosis from your physician detailing your symptoms and prognosis, a history of your treatments and your response. You should also include reports of any diagnostic tests and any history of hospitalization. This process can be difficult – we’re here to help you through it, each step of the way.
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