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Scleroderma and SSD

June is Scleroderma Awareness Month, which means that information about this disabling condition will be plentiful. If you were recently diagnosed with this condition, you almost certainly have questions about the future and whether you will be able to work. Your doctor can answer some of your questions, but you may also wish to know about the resources that will be available to you such as Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits  if you can no longer work because of scleroderma.

Scleroderma is an illness of the skin that causes it to become hard. Some types of scleroderma also affect the internal organs, significantly affecting their functioning. This can include the heart, lungs, digestive tract and kidneys. Symptoms can include shiny, inflexible skin, acid reflux disease, Reynaud's disease, which causes an exaggerated reaction to hot and cold, swelling of the fingers and hands. Scleroderma can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms, especially early on, can be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses. Classic signs of scleroderma are the patches or lines that appear on the skin. Symptoms of systemic scleroderma depend on which organ or organs are affected by the illness.

If your scleroderma significantly limits your ability to work, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability (SSD). Although scleroderma is a condition recognized by the Social Security Administration, simply having the diagnosis is not enough. You must be able to show how the illness prevents you from working. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, and like other such illnesses, symptoms can come and go, adding to the challenge of proving disability.

Not only will you need medical evidence and statements from physicians about the diagnosis and prognosis for your future, you will need to gather employment records that illustrate the nature of your work and the tasks required. Because most disability claims are initially denied, you should be prepared to move to the next stages of the claims process, the hearing and appeal, where you will have more opportunity to prove how scleroderma limits your ability to work.

Having an advocate to guide you through the hearing and appeal process is crucial. At Binder & Binder®, the national Social Security Disability advocates, we have helped thousands of clients obtain needed disability benefits for illnesses like scleroderma that prevent them from working. If your initial claim for SSD benefits for scleroderma was denied, call us. The earlier you contact us, the better your chance of success. We can help.

Source: Insurance News Net, "June is Scleroderma Awareness Month," June 4, 2012.

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