When Is Vertigo and the Side Effects Considered a Basis for Disability Benefits From Social Security?

Vertigo is the feeling that your surroundings are spinning while there is no actual movement. People suffering from vertigo may feel like they are spinning, falling, or tilting. This can cause lightheadedness, blurry vision, nausea, and vomiting. They may find it hard to keep their balance, and the vertigo can make it difficult to walk. People with vertigo may lose their balance and fall. 

For most people, vertigo is an annoyance rather than a disability. But, when there are frequent or constant episodes of vertigo, it can be disabling. The causes of vertigo may also be disabling on their own. 

Causes of Vertigowoman holding head due to vertigo

There are many possible causes of vertigo. These include: 

  • Damage to the inner ear
  • Inflammation in the inner ear
  • Ear infection
  • Meniere’s disease
  • A tumor in the nerve tissue
  • Decreased blood flow to the brain (cerebellar hemorrhage)
  • Head injury
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Migraines 
  • Nervous system disorders 
  • Complications from diabetes
  • Blood pressure problems

Disability Benefits for Vertigo

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits for vertigo, you must have a comprehensive exam with a neuro-otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat specialist). The doctor should provide detailed information about your vertigo: how often you have attacks, how long they last, the severity of those attacks, and how the vertigo prevents you from working and participating in life activities. You may want to keep a diary of your symptoms over a six-month period.

In order to show that you have vertigo, you must present the results of certain hearing tests. These should include:

  • Pure tone audiometry: Tests hearing at certain pitches
  • Speech audiometry: Tests ability to hear speech and word recognition
  • Bekesy audiometry: A hearing test in which the subject controls the duration of the tones
  • Vestibular function testing: Testing of the inner ear

For most people who have vertigo, the vertigo is not severe and responds well to treatment. A person may qualify for disability benefits from Social Security (SSDI) for vertigo if the vertigo is severe and does not respond to treatment. The question boils down to this: despite the symptoms you are experiencing from verigo or the medications can you sustain full time emplyment? See our article, “SSA Rules for Vertigo Can Make Your Head Spin”, for more information about qualifying for Social Security disability benefits.

Do you have questions about applying for SSDI or SSI for vertigo? Request a copy of Boston disability attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process

If you have additional questions about vertigo and applying for disability from Social Security, please contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847. 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
6 Comments
I am an English teacher at the college level. I had to cancel 4 classes last semester because of my vertigo. Frequently,I would slur my speech, not hear students because of the ringing in my ears. On one occasion I even fell oout of my chair because of dizziness. Am I a good candidate for disability benefits because it is obvious this disease is negatively affecting my performance in the classroom to the point that I can not do my job or even come to work?
by Peter Saiz November 23, 2017 at 09:28 PM
I have vertigo Please help
by Avis adkison March 13, 2016 at 12:12 AM
Hi, I have just been diagnosed with vertigo. I have been off work because of it and I am returning to work soon. When I return to work does my work place have to recognise that my vertigo is a disability and make adjustments accordingly?
by Christine June 28, 2015 at 12:28 PM
do i qualify for ssi if i have vertigo and the med they want me to take have side effects that saying may cause dizziness? How do i go about applying for ssi for vertigo in new york state?
by patrick mcdonnell March 11, 2015 at 01:02 PM
I have been experiencing vertigo for about 3 months. I was wondering if this is a disability. Reason why I asking is it is affecting my vision. I was wondering if Aflac would covering me for out of work on this on a short term disability?? Thanks, tim
by Timothy Tamkins August 19, 2014 at 08:48 PM
Iam Retired military now since 2008. I havejust been dianosed with vertigo due to brain tumor. I recive a 70% VA didisability rating for service connected issues.Will any disabilty from SS effect my VA disabilty? Any information would be greatly appericated. Wesley Beckwith
by Wesley Beckwith February 13, 2014 at 01:43 PM
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