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Facts about Dystonia and Filing for Disability




 
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.



Facts about the condition

1. Dystonia is an uncommon condition that affects the muscles and causes involuntary contracting and uncontrollable twisting of the affected part of the body.

2. Dystonia is inherited if symptoms start in childhood, but most cases begin in older adulthood. Young people may experience symptoms throughout the body, while adults tend to only have one affected body part. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and can interfere with a person's day-to-day tasks and activities.

3. Most often the neck, face or hand is affected. Symptoms usually occur with a specific movement and are exacerbated by stress, fatigue and anxiety.

4. The extent to which dystonia affects quality of life depends on severity and the affected body part. For example, eyelid contractions can cause functional blindness.

5. Dystonia in the neck can cause painful and involuntary twisting and turning of the head to the side, or cause it to fall forward or backward.

6. If the jaw and tongue are affected, speech may be slurred or eating and swallowing may become difficult.

7. When the hand and forearm are affected, pain and cramping can inhibit writing, playing music, or carrying objects.

8. The cause of dystonia is unknown, although sometimes an underlying condition leads to dystonia. Traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor or oxygen deprivation can lead to dystonia. Poisoning and drug reactions, as well as infections can also lead to dystonia.

9. Sometimes dystonia is difficult to diagnose because symptoms look like other neuromuscular disorders such as Parkinson's disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and Tourette's syndrome.

10. Treatment is focused on minimizing symptoms. When possible, limiting movements that trigger muscle contractions helps relief symptoms. Living a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep and physical activity, reducing stress and anxiety levels is also important. Medications used for Parkinson's disease and seizure treatment may also be affective, as can Botox injections.


Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.

This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.



Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).



Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

There are several reasons but here are just two:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.

Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.















Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions





























Related Body System Impairments:

Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI with Multiple Sclerosis MS
Why Is It Hard to be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability or SSI for Seizures?
Do You Automatically Get Approved For Disability If You Had A Stroke?
Facts about Mini Strokes and Filing for Disability
Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Seizure Disorder, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Why is Charcot-marie-tooth not on the Social Security Disability list of impairments?
Charcot-marie-tooth disease and Filing for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Dystonia and Filing for Disability
Dysautonomia and Filing for Disability
Grand Mal Seizures and Filing for Disability
Narcolepsy, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Epilepsy and Filing for Disability
Hydrocephalus and Filing for Disability
Memory Loss and Filing for Disability
Facts about Stroke and Filing for Disability



Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI


These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it