Chronic venous insufficiency: a common and potentially disabling condition.

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Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in your legs do not work properly and allow the blood to flow back up to your heart. Chronic venous insufficiency is a very common condition, affecting up to 40 percent of the population, and occurring more frequently in women than in men. When the veins do not work efficiently, blood will “pool” or collect in these veins, known as stasis. Damage to the veins can occur as a result of aging, reduced mobility, or prolonged sitting or standing. Most commonly, chronic venous insufficiency occurs due to a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs, referred to as deep vein thrombosis. Other causes of chronic venous insufficiency include vascular malformations and chronic tumors. Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include swelling in the legs or ankles, a tight feeling in the calves, itchy or painful legs, pain when walking that stops when you rest, varicose veins, brown-colored skin near the ankles, restless leg syndrome, painful leg cramps or muscle spasms, or leg ulcers that are difficult to treat. Chronic venous insufficiency is often diagnosed with a test called a vascular or duplex ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to see the blood vessel and check how quickly and in which direction the blood in the legs flow. Nonsurgical treatments for chronic venous insufficiency include endovenous thermal ablation and sclerotherapy. Endovenous thermal ablation uses laser or high-frequency radio waves to heat the affected vein which closes up the affected vessels. Sclerotherapy involves injections into the spider veins or small varicose veins, causing them to collapse and disappear. Sometimes chronic venous insufficiency requires surgical intervention. Vein ligation may be performed, during which a vascular surgeon cuts and ties off affected veins. Stripping involves surgical removal of larger veins. Microincision or ambulatory phlebectomy involves small incisions being made over the veins with a phlebotomy hook being used to remove the damaged veins. In the most severe cases, vein bypass surgery may be performed, which involves using a healthy portion of the vein transplanted from elsewhere in the body to reroute blood around the area affected by chronic venous insufficiency.


A vascular surgeon often recommends treatment strategies to prevent chronic venous insufficiency from worsening. One commonly recommended practice is to refrain from extended periods of standing or sitting in one place. Vascular surgeons will also often advise that you elevate your legs when sitting and elevate them above the level of your heart. Persons with chronic venous insufficiency are also often prescribed compression stockings to aid in circulation.


If you have been diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency and are under the care of a vascular surgeon, and have difficulty performing normal work activities due to your condition, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability insurance benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally administered program available to those who have worked for five of the last 10 years. Similar to any other type of insurance program where you pay premiums, Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility is determined by the date which you last paid into the Social Security disability program through taxes on work earnings. If your condition occurred before your date of the last insured expired, and you have been unable to perform the substantial gainful activity due to a condition that lasts or is expected to last at least one year or result in death, you may qualify for benefits.


First, as Social Security Disability is intended for those who are unable to work due to their conditions, Social Security will confirm that you are no longer engaging in substantial gainful activity, which is defined as working for earnings that do not exceed SSA’s allowable threshold. This threshold for eligibility is updated on an annual basis. In 2022, the threshold for substantial gainful activity is $1350 in gross (pre-tax) earnings per month.


Second, Social Security will determine whether you have a severe impairment. If chronic venous insufficiency has caused such difficulty that it interferes with your ability to perform work activities, it will satisfy this requirement. Next, Social Security will determine your residual functional capacity. This is an assessment of the maximum ability you have to perform certain activities that one would need to do in the course of normal work activities, such as sitting, standing, lifting or carrying, or bending or stooping. Social Security will evaluate whether you can perform your past work based on your residual functional capacity. “Past work” is defined as any work you have performed over the past fifteen years which reaches a substantial gainful activity level that you performed long enough to learn it. If you are unable to perform your past work, Social Security will determine whether there are other jobs that you may be able to perform. If you were between the ages of 50 and 54 on the date you became disabled, and you are only capable of performing sedentary work, Social Security will determine whether your past work provides transferrable skills to a sedentary job. If you were 55 or older on the date of disability, Social Security will determine whether there are jobs at the light level (standing/walking 6 hours of an 8 hour day and lifting 20 lbs. occasionally) that have transferrable skills from your past work.


There are some crucial aspects of chronic venous insufficiency that can make a great difference in your eligibility for disability, particularly as they related to assessing your residual functional capacity. One key aspect is the need to elevate your legs. If your doctor has advised you to elevate your legs at least waist high for at least 50 percent of the workday, it is crucial to obtain a statement from your doctor confirming that this is medically necessary to treat your condition. Additionally, if your doctor has limited the length of time that you should be standing or sitting at once, he or she should indicate this in a statement as well. The need to alternate between sitting and standing can eliminate the possibility of performing several jobs, and the need to elevate the legs at least waist high for half the workday eliminates almost all jobs. LaBovick Law Group will provide your doctors with questionnaires to complete which will confirm these limitations for Social Security Disability. In our experience, having clear documentation from your doctors of your limitations using our forms greatly increases your chances of success with your claim.


Navigating the disability process is very challenging. Hiring an experienced attorney greatly increases your chances of success with your claim. Give LaBovick Law Group a call at (561) 625-8400 for a free case evaluation. We are ready to fight for you to get the benefits you deserve.

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