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Immune System Disorders and Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Blue Book as a guide to determine whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Most disabling conditions fall under one or more of its fourteen sections. The thirteenth section deals with immune system disorders. The Blue Book divides immune system diseases into nine categories. The categories, and the general criteria the SSA uses to determine whether a claimant qualifies for disability benefits, are:

  • Connective tissue disease (undifferentiated and mixed). The qualifications are identical to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above.
  • HIV. You must have one of the following conditions to be considered completely disabled: bacterial infections, fungal infections, protozoan infections, helminthic infections, viral infections, malignant neoplasms, non-responsive ulcerations or lesions, motor or cognitive dysfunction, wasting syndrome, sinusitis, sepsis, endocarditis, meningitis, septic arthritis, pneumonia, or chronic diarrhea.
  • Immune-deficiency disorders (except HIV/AIDS). Medical records must show that your infections (which can be pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, septic arthritis, sinusitis, or endocarditis) are either resistant to an acceptable form of treatment or severe and frequent enough that you need to be hospitalized and/or given IV treatments at least three times per year. However, if you have received stem cell transplants, you will be considered disabled for a year, after which you will be reevaluated periodically.
  • Inflammatory arthritis. Your arthritis must affect a major joint system or be characterized by deformity or regular manifestations which cause an inability to perform in daily functions or work environments.
  • Lupus. Two or more body systems or organs must be affected. At least one of them must be moderate to severe and you must have two or more of the following: weight loss, fever, malaise, fatigue. Alternately, you may qualify if your lupus manifests repeatedly and can be shown to severely limit your daily activity or ability to function in social or work environments.
  • Polymyositis/Dermatomyositis. Must be accompanied with shoulder or pelvic muscle weakness and loss of gross and fine movement ability. You may also be qualified if your muscle weakness causes difficulty swallowing or breathing or if it severely affects joint mobility or your intestines’ functions.
  • Sjögren’s syndrome - The qualifications are identical to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above.
  • Systemic sclerosis (Multiple Sclerosis (MS)). All of the qualifications for lupus, above, AND one or more of the following: fixed deformities which cause loss of ability to walk normally or perform fine motor skills, permanent damage in either foot or both hands. You may also qualify if you’ve had several manifestations which can be shown to severely limit your ability to perform in a work environment or if your condition is paired with Raynaud’s phenomenon (gangrene, ulcerations).
  • Systemic vasculitis. The qualifications are identical to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Psoriasis
  • Raynaud's Disease
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren's Syndrome