LTD / ERISA Disability Benefits for Meningioma
What is a Meningioma?
Meningiomas are brain tumors that arise from the membranes (“meninges”) that surround the surface of the brain (“dura mater”) and spinal cord. They range from “benign” to “malignant.” Meningiomas are classified as Grade I (normal), Grade II (“atypical”), and Grade III (“anaplastic”) tumors.
Grade I meningiomas are the most common (comprising about 30% of all brain tumors), and they are considered benign tumors because if they grow at all, they grow very slowly. Most often, they do not require any specific treatment. All that may be required is monitoring with an MRI brain scan.
Grade II meningiomas are much less common. They are more concerning because they can enlarge, begin to invade the surrounding tissues and the bone, and may require treatment with surgery or radiation treatments (e.g., gamma-knife). After treatment, they can recur and require additional treatment.
Grade III meningiomas are malignant. They grow rapidly and require aggressive treatment. They can metastasize to other organs and tissues of the body.
Grade II and III meningiomas comprise up to 10% of all meningiomas.
Meningiomas occur in both men and women and at any age. They can produce no symptoms at all (if they are small), or they can cause pressure on the brain (if they get larger) and compress the blood vessels, nerves, and surrounding brain tissue. Sometimes meningiomas can become quite large and can lead to symptoms that include headaches (often worse in the mornings), dizziness, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, confusion, personality changes, vision loss, hearing problems, loss of smell, disequilibrium, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.
Meningiomas can run in families (“familial”), especially in persons who have a condition called “neurofibromatosis.”
Imaging studies, such as CT or MRI scans, are the usual way in which meningiomas are diagnosed. Many times, they are discovered while looking for something else.
Surgery, radiation treatments, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are treatment options that depend on the nature and extent of the tumor. Immunotherapy may include an “immune checkpoint inhibitor,” such as Nivolumab. [Ref: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/search/v?id=NCT03173950&r=1]
Disability Benefits for Meningiomas
Of course, long-term disability (LTD) benefits under Social Security (SSDI) or a private group disability plan (ERISA) will depend on the nature and extent of the meningioma. Section 11.05 of the SSA's “Blue Book” is where disability criteria for benign brain tumors (Grade I) may be found. Different criteria, found at Section 13, apply to malignant brain tumors, including grade II or III meningiomas.
The disability that meningiomas cause may range from none or minimal to severe and incapacitating. If you do not meet a “listing” under the criteria set forth in Sections 11 or 13 of the SSA “Blue Book,” you may still qualify for an award of disability benefits if you are unable to perform your job or any other occupation in the national economy that is commensurate with your education, skill, and training.
Medical documentation is the “heart” of any disability case. Good documentation should include the diagnosis, your symptoms, and how those symptoms affect your ability to perform your job or any other job, with respect to sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying and other measures of exertional physical capability.
At Law Med, we know how to work with your health care providers and how to get the documentation that is required to help with your disability award.