Allergies can be so pronounced that they make daily life and maintaining a job extremely difficult or impossible. This is particularly true when they occur in conjunction with other serious medical conditions.
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not grant disability benefits based on a diagnosis of severe allergies alone, they do recognize impairments that are closely linked to allergies. These include:
- Asthma, COPD, and other breathing disorders
- Autoimmune diseases like Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Severe allergies can affect multiple body systems. Dermatitis occurs when the skin and the tissues just below the skin are affected. Breathing disorders can be exacerbated or even caused by severe allergies. Diseases like lupus and MS already have your immune system on the defensive and allergies work the same way, causing the body to kick into overdrive with an autoimmune response to something that may not even be a true threat.
While you cannot qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits based solely on allergies, you may be able to qualify under one of these related conditions.
Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Allergies
There are two ways in which you may qualify for benefits with allergies by:
- meeting the listing for an allergy-related medical condition, like those listed above
- proving through thorough medical records that you are severely limited in where and how you can work due to the possibility of anaphylaxis
Meeting a listing means your medical records must match what the SSA considers proof of the severity level of a recognized impairment. Impairments appear in the Blue Book. Each listing in the Blue Book details what is necessary for proving disability with the specific condition.
- To qualify with dermatitis, you must suffer from extensive skin lesions that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed.
- To meet the listings for asthma or COPD, either suffer from chronic bronchitis that severely restricts your ability to breathe, or you must experience such severe attacks that you must be hospitalized for treatment at least a couple of times a year.
If you’re not able to meet a listing in the Blue Book but nonetheless suffer from such severe allergies that you are unable to work in any job for which you would otherwise be qualified due to the possibility of suffering anaphylaxis from exposure to allergens, the you may be able to qualify for benefits under what is known as a medical vocational allowance.
For this to occur, the SSA must perform a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis and determine that there is no job you can do that is safe for you to perform. In other words, the SSA must look at your:
- Education and training
- Job experience and acquired skills
- Thorough medical records
- Well documented incidences of anaphylaxis from exposure to allergens
If your RFC shows it is too dangerous for you to work in any job for which you would be qualified, then you will be found eligible for SSD under a medical vocational allowance.
Your Allergies Disability Case
If you are able to meet a listing precisely, then it is unlike your claim will be denied. If however you are applying for benefits with the idea that an RFC evaluation will show you are eligible due to anaphylaxis risks, it is much more likely that you will need to file appeals after you are initially found ineligible for benefits by the SSA.
Consulting with an attorney or Social Security advocate prior to filing your claim may increase your chances of being approved. Someone more familiar with handling applications based on severe allergies can help you collect the appropriate medical and other evidence to support your argument that you are unable to work.
When it is time to file for benefits, keep in mind that there are two programs for which you may qualify:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), for which you can apply via the SSA’s website or in your local SSA office.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which requires you file your application in person.
To file in person, you must have an appointment. Make your appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213.