Dysautonomia is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, and one of the hundreds of kinds of dysautonomia is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is a very complicated autonomic disorder that causes dizziness and fainting spells when a person suddenly changes position, such as when they sit or stand up from laying down or being seated.
Many of those who suffer from the condition may find themselves asking, “Is POTS a disability?” It may be difficult to diagnose, but it is certainly a disability for the people who experience it. However, because there could be several different causes for your symptoms, it becomes extremely complicated when you are trying to claim Social Security Disability or SSDI benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA) or qualify for long-term disability insurance benefits under a disability insurance policy based on a diagnosis of POTS.
Do you have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)?
Our nervous system has many different functions, many of which are on auto-pilot. This includes breathing, keeping a normal body temperature, sweating, and keeping our heart beating. It also includes digesting our food and maintaining normal blood pressure. We never have to think about doing these things, our nervous system takes care of it.
All these automatic functions are called the autonomic nervous system. When something is not working right in the autonomic nervous system, it’s call dysautonomia. With all the duties that the autonomic nervous system is responsible for, the variety of symptoms experienced, and the severity of these symptoms, it’s easy to see why it would be difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. Any number of things could be causing the symptoms. But how do you know if your dysautonomia is POTS?
Symptoms of a Dysautonomia
Some of the symptoms of dysautonomia include headaches, digestive problems, sensory disorders, and muscle and nerve pain. You may also experience orthostatic hypotension which means your blood pressure falls rapidly when you stand up, which in turn can cause fainting. Anxiety and sleep disorders may also be symptoms of dysautonomia.
Symptoms Specific to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
POTS is mostly a diagnosis by exclusion, as the many types of dysautonomia and some entirely different medical conditions have similar symptoms. This means doctors will have to find all the other reasons for your symptoms and then exclude those reasons one by one.
Before doctors can diagnose POTS, they first have to rule out orthostatic hypotension as a reason for your symptoms. Orthostatic hypotension means that your blood pressure drops too much when you first stand up. Usually, when you stand up, your heart tightens blood vessels to maintain your blood pressure and get the blood circulating. Doctors also have to check to make sure that you haven’t had a recent blood loss for whatever reason. They also have to check to make sure you are not dehydrated before the test.
With POTS, symptoms usually happen when you are standing upright. Orthostatic means your symptoms happen when you are in an upright posture, so they will take your heart rate when you are lying down on a tilt table. Next, the table will raise your body from horizontal to standing, and then your heart rate will be taken again. If your heart rate goes up at least 30 beats per minute, then that is a sign of POTS.
Other symptoms of POTS may include lightheadedness and incidents of fainting. This is a risk for patients because they may fall when they get up too quickly. People also report difficulty with concentrating and trying to think straight, long-lasting fatigue, headaches, palpitations, nausea, tremors, and blurry vision. Some people also experience shakiness and find that exercise makes their symptoms worse.
Some autotomic disorders can be managed with various treatments, so it may take a long time to get to the point where your symptoms are severe enough to qualify for disability. Once you have a diagnosis for your disorder, the next step is to apply for disability insurance or Social Security Disability benefits so that you can support yourself when you are not able to work.
Disability Insurance Benefits from an Insurance Company
Many people have short-term disability insurance and long-term disability insurance policies through their workplaces as part of a group benefits plan. A person can also obtain an individual disability insurance policy through an insurance broker or directly from an insurance company.
Short-Term Disability Policies
Typically, a short-term disability policy will replace 60 to 70% of your income, but it only pays out for a limited time, maybe for 6 months or up to one year. Short-term disability policies usually won’t start paying out until 1-2 weeks after you can prove that you have become disabled. Short-term policies are meant more for accidents that keep you out of work for a few months, like a broken arm or torn ligaments. If you are unable to return to work at the end of your STD benefit period you can then file a claim for long-term disability.
Long-Term Disability Policies
Long-term policies usually replace about 60% of your previous salary. Benefits can be paid out for years, with many policies paying benefits until you reach your normal retirement age. Other policies have a set limit on the number of years they will pay or may limit payments for certain conditions. Even though you have paid your premiums, sometimes insurance companies will try to avoid paying out benefits. This is when you will need to enlist the help of an experienced disability insurance lawyer.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA)
Before you start the application process of a Social Security Disability Insurance claim with the SSA, you should make sure that you meet the non-medical requirements. for example, you have to have a work history where you paid Social Security taxes. If you’ve never paid Social Security taxes, you cannot collect disability. You also have to have a long enough work history to earn a certain amount of credits, and the work must be recent enough that your credits have not expired.
The Blue Book
The SSA bases all its disability decisions on a published list of disorders and diseases known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book currently does not list dysautonomia, but it does have listings for the various body systems that you may be having problems with. For example, the tachycardia part of your disorder – the heart rate that rises when you are standing – is happening because of a disorder of your cardiovascular system. So to receive Social Security Disability, your medical records need to show how your condition is related to the cardiovascular system because cardiovascular system disorders are listed in the book.
Your doctor needs to document how your condition affects your daily life and your ability to work.
For example, POTS symptoms make it difficult to do any sort of physical activity, so any job that requires physical activity would be out of the question. In many cases just getting up out of an office chair can make a person with POTS faint or possibly fall because they are lightheaded.
It’s important that your medical records be lengthy and complete if you want to qualify for benefits to replace your lost income. They should include many visits to the doctor and an explanation of how your condition prevents you from performing your job. An attorney who has experience with SSDI claims will help.
Is POTS a Disability? Request a Free Case Evaluation
Whether POTS will qualify an applicant to receive disability benefits depends on the severity of your condition, but an experienced disability lawyer at Ortiz Law Firm can assist you through the process. We assist POTS patients with proving their eligibility for disability benefits from an insurance company or the SSA.
Our specialized attorneys know that you will need precise documentation proving your symptoms, your medical diagnosis, your frequency of episodes, how long you have been having episodes, and what treatments you have tried. If you need help getting the benefits you deserve, then contact us today. You can call our office at (888) 321-8131 or contact us online to request a free consultation.