Sarcoidosis - Condition and Symptoms
Sarcoidosis, also known as sarcoid or Besnier-Boeck disease, is an immune disorder that can strike any organ in the body. When in the active phase, Sarcoidosis causes granulomas to form. Granulomas are microscopic clumps of immune cells, sometimes described as resembling tiny lumps of sugar, that are used by a properly functioning immune system to wall off harmful objects that it cannot destroy. In Sarcoidosis, these granulomas get so large that they start interfering with the functions of the organ in which they are located. In addition to decreased organ function, these clumps of immune cells also cause permanent scarring of tissues and organs.
Symptoms vary widely based on the location of the granulomas, which can manifest in almost any bodily organ. The most common site of attack is the lungs, in which Sarcoidonal granulomas can cause shortness of breath and pain on exertion. When the granulomas are located in the heart they cause a weak heart rate and even eventually lead to death.
Because the symptoms of Sarcoidosis mimic many other diseases and can vary widely from person to person, it can often take years and several incorrect diagnoses before the correct diagnosis is reached. In most cases, X-rays are used to look for scarring in the lungs in conjunction with analysis of laboratory results and biopsies.
Although treatment can often decrease outbreaks of Sarcoidosis, there is no cure for this disabling condition. Because attacks often cause permanent scarring, the longer a person suffers from this disease, the more detrimental the effects of the condition will become.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Sarcoidosis
The Social Security Administration does not have a specific listing for Sarcoidosis in its “Blue Book” of impairments that qualify individuals for disability benefits. When Sarcoidosis causes permanent disability, therefore, it is advisable that potential claimants apply for disability benefits by demonstrating debilitating symptoms that mimic the disability criteria for other impairment listings referenced by Disability Determination Services (DDS).
In addition, claimants must prove that they are unable to work for a minimum of 12 months due to the total disability caused by their condition. Because Sarcoidosis can attack the body intermittently, many people with this disorder are able to work for months at a time between active phases. As the disease progresses, however, any type of gainful activity will likely become impossible, and this fact should be reflected in an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Another factor to consider when applying for Social Security Disability is that the DDS, working with Social Security, will place a greater weight on a diagnosis and report of disability made by a medical specialist. A good disability attorney or advocate should be able to connect you with a medical professional specializing in your disorder and help you with every step of the application process.
Your Sarcoidosis Disability Claim
The extreme fatigue and chronic pain involved in living with an incurable disabling condition like Sarcoidosis can make it impossible to work and even more challenging to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits. Fortunately, there is help available from disability lawyers and advocates specializing in Social Security law. Before filing for Social Security Disability assistance, meet with a disability attorney who can answer any questions you may have. They will ensure that you have the correct and complete medical documentation to support your disability claim, as well as potentially referring your case to additional specialists that can strengthen your application for benefits. The help and guidance of a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate can prove invaluable in every step of the disability process from the initial application to appeal.