When Lupus is Disabling Under Social Security Law
Lupus is an overwhelming and devastating disease that can be as hard to diagnose as it is to live with. If the medical profession has trouble defining and diagnosing it, the Social Security Administration is equally perplexed.
There are two kinds of chronic lupus -discold lupus and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE is the more severe disease which causes inflammation of various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys. It affects roughly 10 times more women than men. The immune systems of patients with SLE inexplicably produce antibodies that attack the body's own tissue. The medical community does not know what causes a person's body to start producing these destructive auto-antibodies.
As with other autoimmune disorders, the crux of a claim is in careful documentation and verification of symptoms. Symptoms can range from minor annoyances to totally disabling conditions. Fatigue, headaches and rashes are common, and the constellation can include more serious diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, dermatolmyostis or Sjogern's syndrome. Many of these disease processes have symptoms that overlap lupus. The diagnostic label is less important that the symptoms that cause the inability to work.
In addition to the limitations caused by the disease itself, long-term treatment with steroids creates its own set of issues. Often proving disability means proving damage to the joints, muscles, eyes, skin, and bran and the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, renal, and neurological systems.
Depression is common, and psychological aspects of the disorder should be developed into viable medical evidence through testing and treatment. Since fatigue can be the most debilitating aspect of lupus and other autoimmune disorders, this should be discussed with the doctor at every exam. Having a few good days now and then is not the same as being consistently "available" for full-time work. If something as simple as watching a television football game triggers a stress migraine, a patient is hardly a candidate for the work place.
Many initial applications for Lupus claimants are denied. Timely appeals are essential. As more and more disability applications are processed electronically, it becomes essential to get legal help in submitting the full range of well developed evidence. Our office would be pleased to assist your in this process.
Do you wonder if you might qualify for Social Security disability or SSI benefits? Our initial office consultations are free. We welcome referrals and are happy to review those cases. Call our offices and we will schedule a free appointment.
Jon Gold, Attorney at Law