Facts about Peyronie's Disease 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. Peyronie's disease involves scar tissue that accumulates in the tissues of the penis, causing painful curving or bending. The physical symptoms of the condition often cause stress or anxiety in the affected individual.
2. It is thought that this scar tissue develops due to a small injury that does not heal properly. This could be due to an accident, sports injury or even injury during sex. The corpus cavernosum are responsible for filling with blood to allow the penis to become erect, and the tunica albuginea is the surrounding protective tissue. This tissue is very elastic, to allow expansion during an erection.
3. Injury to the tunica albuginea, if it does not heal properly, may lead to tissue damage. The damaged tissue is not elastic the way normal tissue is and that area of the penis is unable to expand with the rest of the penis during erection. The scar tissue is hard, not spongy, and feels like lumps or a band in the affected area.
4. One symptom of Peyronie's disease is deformity during erection, which usually occurs as bending or curving upward. The deformity can also be a bending or curving to one side, may bend downward at a sharp angle, or can even be no bending or curving but appear as a tight band around one part of the penis.
5. Another symptom is pain, which can occur at all times, even when the penis is not erect, but typically occurs only either during an erection or an orgasm.
6. Erectile disfunction, the inability to become erect or keep an erection, and shortening of the penis are two other possible symptoms of Peyronie's disease.
7. Symptoms usually build gradually over six to 18 months, then stop getting worse. The pain usually goes away, but the deformity will continue.
8. If symptoms are not severe after the initial 18 months, and do not interfere with sexual satisfication, treatment is generally unnecessary. Injections and surgery to reduce the deformity are the options for more severe cases.
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.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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