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Does Neurocardiogenic Syncope Qualify as a Disability?

Neurocardiogenic syncope is a fainting condition that occurs when your body overreacts to certain triggers. This condition is also known as vasovagal syncope. Syncope, in the most basic terms, means a temporary loss of consciousness. 

Types of Syncope

There are four types of syncope: reflex, cardiac, orthostatic or neurologic. 

  • Reflex, or neurally mediated, syncope is the most common type of fainting. This type of syncope occurs when your heart rate slows down and there is a drop in blood pressure. There are three kinds of reflex syncope. The first is vasovagal or neurocardiogenic. The second is situational, occurring when performing certain activities. The third is the carotid sinus when pressure is placed upon your carotid artery. 
  • The second type of syncope is cardiovascular. This occurs when there is decreased blood flow to the brain. 
  • The third type is orthostatic syncope, which is a syncope caused by a postural decrease in blood pressure. 
  • And the fourth type of syncope is neurologic, with a miscommunication between the heart and the brain usually caused by seizure or stroke. 

Neurocardiogenic Syncope Triggers

Neurocardiogenic syncope falls into the reflex syncope category. If you experience neurocardiogenic syncope, you likely have reoccurring fainting spells wherein you have a sudden drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, causing you to faint. There are multiple triggers that may cause your body’s heart rate to drop suddenly. Some of the typical triggers include emotion, stress, pain, or standing for long periods of time. While the most obvious symptom of syncope is loss of consciousness, other symptoms include nausea, sweating, and confusion. 

Neurocardiogenic Syncope Diagnosis and Treatment

Neurocardiogenic syncope is diagnosed through medical testing, including an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, or blood tests. Your doctor may also suggest undergoing a tilt table test to determine if your syncope is positional related. A tilt table test requires you to lie flat on your back on a table, while the table changes position to various angles. A technician will monitor your heart rhythms and blood pressure throughout the changes of position. If your syncope is determined to be related to heart arrhythmia, your doctor will likely evaluate the severity and frequency of these episodes to determine the appropriate treatment. 

The most basic treatment includes trigger avoidance. In the more extreme cases, you may require a pacemaker to help regulate your heart rate. Before jumping to surgical intervention, your doctor will likely try different forms of medications to help regulate your blood pressure. Therapy may also be recommended, along with changing your diet. If conservative measures do not help regulate your syncope episodes, a pacemaker will be considered. 

You may be wondering if you are legally able to drive when suffering from neurocardiogenic syncope. This really depends upon the state you live in. Every state has a different policy regarding syncope episodes. A general rule of thumb is not to drive for 3-12 months after suffering frequent episodes of syncope. Use your best judgment. If you have frequent fainting spells with no known trigger, driving may not be the best thing for you. 

In the same sense, suffering from multiple episodes of syncope may significantly impact your ability to work, no matter what type of employment you engage in. Certainly, you would not want to be working with heavy machinery, but depending upon the frequency of your episodes, even performing the sedentary type of work may prove difficult. If you are struggling to work due to the frequency of syncope episodes, you should consider applying for social security disability benefits. 

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social security disability is a federally mandated insurance program. The federal government instituted this program as a safety net for individuals who are unable to work due to any physical or mental condition. Participation in the program is mandatory. As long as you receive an income from working, you are required to pay taxes upon that income. Part of the taxes you pay go toward the disability insurance program. You are likely paying your “premium” into the insurance program without even knowing it. 

To collect upon these benefits, you will need to prove you are disabled under social security’s definition of disability. Social security’s definition of disability is unique from any other type of insurance program. Social security requires the individual to either be out of work for a 12-month time frame or expected to be out of work for that 12 months resulting from a medical condition. If you are suffering from frequent episodes of syncope that your medical provider has been unable to control for a minimum of 12 months you should be applying for the disability program. As mentioned previously, if your doctor has been unable to control your syncope episodes through conservative treatment, you will likely require a pacemaker implanted, which may happen within that 12-month frame. In any event, if your neurocardiogenic syncope is preventing you from working, applying for disability benefits is the right course of action. 

To win your disability claim:

  1. You must prove your residual functional capacity precludes all gainful employment. The best way to prove you are disabled is through multiple medical examinations documenting the severity and frequency of your syncope episodes. It would also be beneficial for your medical provider to write an opinion as to the severity of your condition. 
  2. Social security will review all of your medical evidence to first determine what you are functionally capable of doing. Your medical records need to specifically document the severity of your condition. If you lack medical evidence, proving the severity of your syncope episodes will be quite difficult. This would come down to your testimony alone, which likely will not be sufficient in proving your disability. If you lack health insurance, your best bet would be to present to your local hospital whenever you have episodes of syncope. This way your episodes are medically documented. 
  3. Social security will then see the frequency of those episodes and use that evidence to determine your functional capacity. Once your functional ability is determined, social security will consider whether you are able to perform the work you have done in the past or whether there is any other work available in the national economy which can be performed with your functional limitations. 

LaBovick Law Group Attorneys Know How to Win Disability Claims

Suffering from frequent episodes of fainting spells can be quite disabling. If you suffer from syncope episodes, whether they are neurocardiogenic or related to other causes, applying for disability benefits is likely the best course of action. At the LaBovick Law Group, we know how to win disability claims related to syncope episodes. Call us today at (561) 623-3681 for a free consultation

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