May is Lupus Awareness Month. Lupus affects more people than is commonly realized - at least 1.5 million Americans and 5 million worldwide. Lupus is a disabling, unpredictable and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease that affects the body's immune system, causing it to attack itself. The illness can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart and lungs, and there is no known cure.
Many people with lupus, or systemic lupus erthymatosus, have difficulty with daily activities, cannot concentrate and are unable to function socially and are unable to work. Lupus, is listed in the Social Security's Blue Book, or listing of conditions that qualify individuals for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
Disability Eligibility Criteria
Although lupus is a listed impairment, simply having a diagnosis of lupus is not an automatic qualifier for disability benefits. An applicant for SSD benefits must be able to demonstrate that the illness affects at least two body systems and must cause a minimum of two of these symptoms:
- Weight loss
Another way that people with lupus may be eligible for SSD benefits is to show that two of these symptoms affect:
- Daily living activities
- Social functioning
- Inability to complete tasks in a timely way
In addition to having the limitations listed above, you must be able to show how the limitations affect your ability to be independent, act appropriately and be effective.
The Social Security administration follows the American College of Rheumatology guidelines for diagnosing lupus. There are 11 possible criteria, and to be eligible for SSD, an applicant must have at least four to prove that the diagnosis was correct.
Another way that an individual may qualify for SSD is to show that the health problems caused by lupus make it impossible to work. Being unable to stand or walk for more than a few minutes, shortness of breath, headaches and other symptoms can make it very difficult to perform many jobs. The SSA may also evaluate mental and social abilities to determine whether a lack of concentration or inability to interact with co-workers could prevent an individual from working.
Get Help With Your Claim
Meeting the SSD requirements for disability caused by lupus can be very complex, as the lists above suggest. Because of the challenges involved in demonstrating disability to the satisfaction of the Social Security Administration, having an advocate to guide you through the process can mean the difference between obtaining full benefits and being denied or receiving only partial benefits. At Binder & Binder®, the National Social Security Disability advocates, we have the experience and knowledge to help you obtain the disability benefits you need and deserve.
Source: Lupus Foundation of America website.