Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an overwhelming and devastating disease that can be as hard to diagnose as it is to live with. As with other autoimmune disorders, the crux of a Social Security or SSI disability claim for lupus is in careful documentation and verification of objective and subjective symptoms. This even can include information from outside the conventional medical setting. A case will not be won or lost because of a letter from a neighbor or friend talking about profound changes they observe, but it all helps paint the picture that can lead to a successful claim.
Lupus afflicts roughly 10 times more women than men. The immune systems of patients with SLE inexplicably produce antibodies that attack the body’s own tissue. Physicians don’t know what causes a person’s body to start producing these destructive auto-antibodies.
Fatigue, pain, headaches, and rashes are common, and the autoimmune constellation can include more serious diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Many of these diseases have symptoms that may overlap with lupus. The diagnostic label is less important than the reasons that a person cannot 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 brain, 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 autoimmune disorders, this should be discussed with the doctor at every exam. Having occasional good days 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 workplace.
Many initial applications for lupus claimants are denied. Careful development of evidence and timely appeals are essential. As more and more disability applications are processed electronically, it becomes essential to get legal help submitting the full range of information needed.
Our office would be pleased to lend a hand to you in this process, contact us if we can be of assistance for proving your Social Security or SSI disability claim for lupus.
Lupus Foundation of America – The website has resources, an advocacy center, a directory of local chapters, and a calendar of upcoming events.
Disability Evaluation Under Social Security – SSA page that describes criteria for claiming lupus as a disability.