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Systemic Vasculitis and Social Security Disability

Systemic Vasculitis – Condition and Symptoms

Vasculitis is the inflammation of blood vessels. The affected vessels may be the arteries (which carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body) or the veins (which carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart, which pumps it toward the lungs where it gets more oxygen). This inflammation can result in scarring, weakening, narrowing or thickening in the walls of the blood vessels. Sometimes Vasculitis can be so severe that it affects the flow of blood to tissues and organs, resulting in damage to the structures and adversely impacting the function of the organs.

There are two main classifications of Vasculitis. Primary Vasculitis is the name given when the disease strikes for no known reason; its cause is unknown. Secondary Vasculitis occurs as a result of another disease. Some of these may be autoimmune diseases (where the body’s immune system creates antibodies which attack cells or tissues in the body) such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, certain types of infections, allergic reactions (such as those which occur with some medication allergies), and some types of blood cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

There are many types of Vasculitis. They can be classified in a number of different ways. For the purpose of this discussion, we shall look at them as they relate to the organ systems they impact. Here are a few of the types of Vasculitis:

  • Kawasaki disease: Affects the skin, eyes, mouth and heart.
  • Buerger’s disease: Affects the veins and arteries of the legs.
  • Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis: Affects the lungs, kidneys, heart and skin.
  • Cutaneous small-vessel vasculitis: Affects the kidneys and skin.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis: Affects the nose, kidneys and lungs.

Systemic Vasculitis refers to a disease that has advanced enough to have created damage to an organ or organ system. Because there are so many different types of Vasculitis, there can be an equally diverse group of symptoms, depending on the tissue, organ or system affected. In general terms, some of the symptoms may include:

  • Fever, fatigue, weight loss or malaise (a general sense of discomfort or weakness). These are known as constitutional symptoms.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Nerve problems, including weakness or numbness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Unusual rashes, especially on the extremities.

Again, please keep in mind that this is a very broad overview, and that there are a multitude of other symptoms that may be associated with each of the variants of Vasculitis.

Treatment for Vasculitis will also vary depending on the type and therefore the organs or organ systems affected. In general, corticosteroids are used to control the inflammation associated with the disease, although they can have some pretty severe side-effects. Some immunosuppressant medications may be used to control the immune system’s attacks on the blood vessels.

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Systemic Vasculitis Diagnosis

Systemic Vasculitis is listed in the Social Security Administration’s impairment listing manual (informally called the “Blue Book”) as one of the conditions that can qualify a person to receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. The Blue Book spells out the criteria that are used to evaluate the severity of the disease and the impact is has on a person’s life. In order to qualify for disability benefits, a person must have:

Involvement of at least 2 organs or organ systems with

  • At least one of the organs/systems moderately impacted, and
  • At least 2 constitutional symptoms, or

Ongoing manifestations of Systemic Vasculitis with a minimum of 2 constitutional symptoms, and at least one of the following at a pre-determined level of severity:

  • Impact on social functioning.
  • Impact on activities of daily living.
  • Impact on the ability to complete tasks in a timely matter due to inability to concentrate or focus.

Depending on the type, diagnosis of Systemic Vasculitis may be done via blood tests, MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, angiogram (X-ray of the blood vessels), urinalysis, or a biopsy of the affected blood vessel.

Your Systemic Vasculitis Disability Case

If you have been diagnosed with Systemic Vasculitis and are unable to work because it has affected your health, you may very well be entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Since applying and receiving approval for disability benefits can quickly become very complicated, this would be the best time to seek the services of a Social Security Disability lawyer.

There are a number of things that have to be considered when it comes to your disability case. First of all, cases are presided over by an administrative law judge. Because of this, the application and the accompanying documents need to be able to hold up under legal scrutiny. Secondly, all of the relevant paperwork must demonstrate that the claimant meets the medical criteria to qualify as having been disabled by their condition. Any application that falls short in either area stands a good chance of being denied. Your experienced Social Security Disability attorney or advocate has the qualifications to make sure that both aspects of your application documents are solid, providing you with the assurance that your benefits will begin as soon as possible.