Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema?

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If you have lymphedema, the constant swelling in your arms and legs can make it impossible for you to work. But can you get disability for Lymphedema? Is it considered a disability by the SSA? What do you need to do to apply? Let’s find out!

Yes, you can get social disability benefits for Lymphedema as it is a severe condition. Lymphedema will affect your working capacity. Due to this, you will also be eligible to get disability benefits every month. 

Lymphedema is a condition in which there is swelling in the arms and legs or swelling in both. Its primary condition affects 1 out of 100,000 Americans and secondary condition affects 1 out of every 1000 individuals

You can also suffer from a slight infection of Lymphedema. This condition is not visible at a lower stage but becomes unbearable once it worsens and gets at a later stage. We will learn more about this condition further in the article. 

Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition of the tissues. In this case, there is an excess swelling in the tissues of the arms and legs. It mainly occurs when there is an accumulation of a fluid rich in protein. 

Ideally, excess of this fluid gets out of the body through the lymphatic system. But swelling occurs when the vessels of the lymphatic system get blocked which prevents the drainage of the lymph fluid from the body. 

The lymphatic system contains lymph nodes. These nodes are an essential part of the lymphatic system, and their main job is to keep the lymphatic system functioning properly. 

What causes Lymphedema?

Lymph nodes can be damaged because of cancer or cancer treatment. If any condition blocks the lymph nodes from removing the lymph fluid, that condition can lead to Lymphedema. 

There can be several other things that can damage the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system in the body can sustain damage because of parasites, lymphatic node surgery, and infections. 

Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

What are its symptoms/effects?

This condition mostly impacts the arms and legs of a person. In rare cases, this condition can also affect the chest wall, abdomen, genitals, and neck of a person.  It can also be seen in extreme cases of Lymphedema that this condition can also have an impact on a person’s ability to move their limbs. 

People suffering from this impairment are also at a greater risk of suffering from skin infections. Some problems can also lead to sepsis, ultimately leading to skin changes and breakdown. 

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How Might Lymphedema Affect Your Life? 

Lymphedema is a severe condition that will harm your personal and professional life. A person can suffer from two types of Lymphedema. 

Primary Lymphedema

In the first type, its severity is low, and patients suffering from this type don’t experience a lot of pain. They might experience some swelling in their limbs now and then. 

Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

Secondary Lymphedema

The second kind of Lymphedema is when its severity is pretty high. In these cases, the patient suffers from much pain and swelling in their limbs. Sometimes the patient is even unable to move their limbs. 

With such symptoms, it is evident that they cannot work to their full potential and capacity. So yes, Lymphedema does have an impact on a person’s life. 

What is The Financial Cost of Treating Lymphedema? 

Lymphedema can extract a significant sum of money out of your pockets as treatment of this condition is not cheap. On average, patients suffering from this condition spend around $977 per annum

When it is at a low level, the treatment for this condition can cost about $ 207 per annum. The treatment cost for severe Lymphedema can go up to $ 1400. 

As the cost of living and treatment of Lymphedema is so high, this is why people try to seek financial aid from the social security administration. If the individual passes through the listings and the requirements, they are eligible for monthly compensation to treat Lymphedema. 

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If I Have Lymphedema, Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits?

You can qualify for social security disability benefits if you have Lymphedema. This also depends on the severity of your condition; if your Lymphedema is so bad that you cannot work and move your limbs, then you do qualify for social security disability benefits. 

The social security administration approves the social security disability benefits. Their main job is to check the claims of individuals that claim they have some sort of disability. After reviewing and backing their claims, they give the individuals monthly compensation. 

Suppose you want to achieve and avail of these benefits. In that case, you should be a contributing member of society with enough credits to pay adequate taxes to the social security administration. 

In most cases, these conditions mean that an individual should have full-time working experience for at least five of the last ten years. 

If you wish to get disability benefits, you should also have a disability that comes under the listings of the social security administration. Your disability should also last for a year or should be life-threatening for you to be eligible for disability benefits. 

Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

What are the Medical Qualifications for Approval of Disability Benefits? 

The social security administration has a book of all the listings and requirements necessary for a person to qualify through the social security administration system to get disability benefits. However, Lymphedema is not given in the blue book for the list of requirements as an impairment. After all this, you can still qualify for disability benefits. 

You will have three ways to qualify for disability benefits. These qualifying conditions are also dependent on your lymphedema diagnosis. You have to essentially prove that your condition and symptoms are similar to one of the other diseases already listed in the Blue Book

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Lymphedema is a condition that can be equivalent to the severity of chronic venous insufficiency. A person suffers from venous insufficiency when their veins are blocked or damaged. When veins stop blood in your body, blood build-up will result in blood build-up. 

When your body has blood build up in the arms and legs, then working with your limbs can be very painful for an individual. In some cases, the pain in the limbs can be so severe that it can leave a person incapable of walking at all. 

Lymphedema is similar to this condition in many ways as the lymphatic fluid builds up in your body instead of the blood. You will have to show that Lymphedema causes extreme swelling in your legs and arms. When severe swelling in your legs, this condition is also known as brawny edema. 

Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

Musculoskeletal Disorder

Even though Lymphedema is not a condition that directly affects your joints, it can limit the movement of your joints to a certain extent. If you face this difficulty while you suffer from Lymphedema, you may have a chance to qualify for disability benefits. You can be eligible for your disability benefits if you can showcase your condition as a primary dysfunction of a joint


The third way to qualify for social security disability benefits is when you suffer from Lymphedema because of cancer or cancer-related treatment. In this case, you have a solid chance to be eligible for social security disability benefits. 

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How to Apply for Social Security Benefits for Lymphedema?

The blue book given by the Social Security Administration requires a person to be suffering from Lymphedema for 12 months before they are eligible for disability benefits. People that have this condition actual can apply for the disability benefits on the following basis:-

  • Basis Chronic venous insufficiency: This condition is similar to Lymphedema as in this condition, instead of the lymph nodes, the nerves, and the veins of an individual are blocked. This results in the build-up of blood in the muscles and the tissues.
  • Based on Cancer: Lymphedema is a common symptom for people that suffer from cancer or if they are taking some cancer treatment. You can also submit your application based on these claims. 
  • Joint dysfunction:- People can also claim compensation related to Lymphedema if they suffer from restrictions in moving their joints because of Lymphedema. Although Lymphedema does not affect the joints of the body directly, it can restrict the movement of the limbs because of excess swelling. 
  • Compassionate allowance: This is the allowance given to children born with Lymphedema. This allowance allows them to get benefits at a faster rate than usual. The applicants should, however, meet the requirements and submit valid proof. 
Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

Congenital Lymphedema and Social Security Disability

Congenital Lymphedema refers to the disability in children that are born with Lymphedema. Many people wonder if these kids are eligible for social security disability benefits when they grow up or not. 

The answer is that these individuals have a higher chance of getting the allowance since they are born with this condition. But they should also provide valid proof that justifies their claims and proves that they are genuinely suffering from this condition. 

Meeting the Requirements of a MedicalVocational Allowance

If you cannot meet the requirements for lymphedema disability benefits, you can try and get this allowance through a medical-vocational allowance. This is an approach that uses a residual functioning capacity(RFC). An RFC is used for determining the ability to work of an individual. 

The RFC will indicate and highlight your body’s notable limitations because of Lymphedema. It will also showcase your restrictions at work so that you can get compensation for your condition. 

People suffering from severe Lymphedema in the legs cannot stand for more than an hour. These people also suffer from problems while sitting, bending, and kneeling for long periods. So they should be given special treatment at the workplace so that they are also able to work. 

Similarly, if a person has severe Lymphedema in the arms, they will not be able to lift heavy stuff, reach or grab stuff for longer durations. Some people also go through difficulties while writing, reading, typing, pushing, pulling, etc. 

If you are given the clearance that you are suffering from a disability as per the medical-vocational allowance, you can redeem social security disability benefits. 

Can You Get Disability For Lymphedema

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long can you live with Lymphedema? 

In the majority of the cases, Lymphedema is not a life-threatening condition, although it can be a problem that stays with you for your lifetime. You will need to control the swelling on your limbs and follow precautionary tips to prevent infection in the affected areas. 
Following such tips will make sure that you can have good health. You can also consult a doctor who will help you manage your lymphatic symptoms. 

2. Is Lymphedema a long-term condition? 

Yes, Lymphedema is a long-term condition that can stay with an individual long. This is a condition that will cause swelling of the body’s tissues. In most cases, this condition will affect your arms and legs. 
The primary cause of this impairment is improper functioning of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system stops working efficiently when the lymphatic nodes are damaged. 

3. What should you not do with Lymphedema?

If you are suffering from Lymphedema, you should avoid walking barefoot at all costs. You might have no lymph nodes under your arms, which can be because of the blood taken from the body during a lymph node surgery. It is your responsibility to avoid the formation of a blood pressure cuff on the arm. 
You should also avoid skin infections, burns, and injuries because our body reacts to such problems by sending and producing more white blood cells for that particular area. When you have fewer lymph nodes or vessels in a specific place, it is difficult for your body to remove the extra fluid. These things can worsen your Lymphedema. 

4. Can Lymphedema be fatal? 

Yes, in some cases, Lymphedema can be fatal. If you have chronic Lymphedema, it can transform into a deadly condition called lymphangiosarcoma. 
This condition can develop in women after they have gone through a double mastectomy. It is a rare condition and is also called soft tissue cancer in many instances. 

Wrap Up

Lymphedema is a fatal condition that affects the lymphatic system, although it is an impairment that is not in the blue book given by the social security administration. You can still avail the benefits and the compensation provided by the SSA. 

There are different methods given in the above article that will help you figure out how to avail of these benefits for yourself. Thank you for reading, we hope this article was able to answer most of your questions.