Lyme disease is caused when an infected tick bites the skin. Lyme disease can lead to a variety of symptoms that affect the heart, nervous system, and joints. Left untreated, the disease can even lead to more serious conditions, including meningitis, fibromyalgia, Bell’s palsy, depression, and more.
If you have Lyme disease, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your medical history to determine if you qualify for disability benefits. To make a strong case for your disability, it is helpful to include your complete medical history, especially any records that document your symptoms and how they have affected your work performance. You should also include all of the test results that you have had that relate to Lyme disease.
You should also include a statement from your doctor with the following information:
- Your medical history
- The diagnosis of Lyme disease
- The ways the illness has affected you
- Your treatment history
- Your doctor’s outlook on your condition
The SSA views inflammatory arthritis as a condition that will automatically qualify you for disability benefits. If you suffer from severe inflammatory arthritis related to Lyme disease, you must meet certain criteria to receive benefits, including:
- Severe limited movement or deformity in a joint
- Severe arthritis in the spine that makes it difficult to move
To qualify for disability benefits for your Lyme disease without inflammatory arthritis, you must also “match” another condition that the SSA recognizes as severe enough for you to receive benefits. Since Lyme disease is connected to a number of other symptoms and conditions, you will most likely able to make a case based on any heart, brain, vision, or nerve condition that you may experience. Providing accurate and complete medical evidence for these conditions will help the SSA in determining your disability. You can explore the list of medical conditions for disability approval here.
If you do not automatically qualify for disability benefits for Lyme disease, and you are unable to “match” another condition in the SSA’s criteria, there are still options available to you. The SSA will determine if you are able to work by reviewing your medical history and consulting with your doctor. They may also evaluate your condition with another doctor of their choosing.
Using this information, the SSA will then determine your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), which shows if symptoms related to Lyme disease affect your ability to work and make you unable to perform reasonable job functions. For example, if you suffer from joint pain due to Lyme disease, you may be unable to work at a job that requires a lot of physical activity. Or if Lyme disease causes depression and anxiety, you may not be able to work at a job that requires memory and attention due to your mental capacity.
If the SSA determines that you are still able to perform some type of job from your RFC, you will most likely not be eligible to receive disability benefits for Lyme disease. If it is found that your symptoms make it so difficult that you cannot work, you may be approved for disability benefits.