What Is Sjogren’s Syndrome And Can I Qualify For Disability?

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by dryness of the mouth and eyes. The body’s own immune system attacks its healthy cells that produce tears and saliva, causing dry mouth, irritated and red dry eyes, and difficulty swallowing. Often, Sjogren’s occurs along with other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Yes, you can qualify for disability benefits with Sjogren’s Syndrome if you provide supporting medical evidence.

How Does Sjogren’s Syndrome Affect Your Ability To Work?

Sjogren’s Syndrome can be disabling, preventing your ability to work and earn a living. Sjogren’s flare-ups lead to joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and dryness of the eyes and mouth. Some people suffer from swollen glands, skin rashes, and weakness and numbness in the extremities. This can affect the ability to stay in one position long, can require frequent repositioning, and can cause limitations with use of the arms, hands, and legs.

Sjogren’s can affect an individual’s ability to perform any kind of work from sedentary duties to the more challenging responsibilities, such as working construction, being a mechanic, or skilled jobs, such as teaching or working in healthcare. Because Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease, it can affect the entire body. This can lead to a multitude of symptoms that could vary greatly from one individual to another.

Qualifying With Sjogren’s Symptoms

If your symptoms are severe, you may qualify for disability benefits with Sjogren’s Syndrome. The SSA has a medical guide, called the Blue Book, that is used to determine if a claimant medically qualifies for disability benefits. To meet the criteria of the listing for Sjogren’s, your condition must fall into one of these two scenarios –

It affects two organs or systems, such as the eyes and the digestive system and it must cause at least two of the following symptoms –

  • Frequent fatigue leading to low activity
  • Frequent fever
  • Malaise
  • Significant weight loss

OR

Sjogren’s with at least two of the previously mentioned symptoms repeatedly and severe limitations in one of the following: 

  • Activities of daily living such as eating, cooking, bathing, or shopping
  • Maintaining social functioning
  • Ability to quickly finish tasks because of lack of persistence or focus

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Qualifying Without Using The Blue Book

If you cannot meet the specific criteria of a Blue Book listing, you can still qualify for disability benefits with a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. Your treating physician will complete the RFC and it will detail how often you must reposition, how long you can stand, if you need assistance walking, and if you have difficulty maintaining focus, memory issues, and social skills.

The RFC will paint a picture of what you can and cannot do. This will help the disability examiner determine what kind of work – if there is any work – that you can do. An RFC can make a difference in the outcome of your disability claim.

Have Your Case Reviewed By An Attorney

If you are unable to work and earn a living because of Sjogren’s Syndrome, you should enlist the help of a disability attorney. An attorney can work with doctors to determine if you qualify and match your medical records with the Blue Book listing. With the help of an attorney, your claim can be prepared, and you can receive a favorable decision for your disability claim.

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