Lupus is a chronic disease that is resistant to treatment. It is an auto-immune disease that can cause such severe symptoms to prevent further ability to work.
At this point, with medical confirmation that treatment may be difficult and there could be permanent restrictions on a return to work, it may be advisable to apply for a disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Someone who suffers from lupus may not know whether their condition will improve in time. Around 50% of lupus sufferers experience further deterioration in their condition despite treatment.
Nearly 90% of lupus sufferers say that the pain and fatigue as well as other severe symptoms of lupus are disabling enough to prevent them from doing any full time work.
Permanent Restrictions You May Experience with Lupus
Lupus sufferers may experience a range of different symptoms, so one lupus patient may not have the same symptoms as another. Many of these symptoms on their own do not necessarily indicate that they are due to lupus as they could be symptoms of other health problems or disorders. The following list is an indication of some of the more lupus symptoms:
- low fever;
- pain and swelling in the joints;
- extreme tiredness;
- evidence of swelling in hands, eyes or feet;
- pain in the chest when deep breathing;
- light sensitive;
- hair loss
- mouth or nose sores;
- a rash appearing on the cheeks and / or nose;
- fingers and toes becoming numb and turning blue or white.
Every lupus sufferer has a different trajectory as the disease develops, so it is hard to be too prescriptive about permanent impairments for lupus. A doctor’s diagnosis of lupus can take quite a long time and may depend on recognition of the sufferer’s family’s auto-immune history in combination with the onset of symptoms and combination of symptoms.
Work History and Job Skills
If a social security disability benefit is applied for, the SSA will make their decision whether to grant a benefit or not on an assessment of both the lupus sufferer’s ability to continue working, or do any paid work at all as well as their full work history.
The last criterion is important because it determines whether the benefit applicant is able to receive social security disability insurance (SSDI) assistance or must apply through the supplemental security income (SSI) pathway.
SSDI benefits are based on the amount of work credits accumulated while SSI benefits may be available to those whose work history has been much less continuous or who have less assets or other income.
Can I Perform Sedentary Work?
One of the options that SSA’s disability determination service (DDS) investigators will examine is whether a benefit applicant with lupus may be capable of sedentary work. In many cases, the DDS may decide that a lupus applicant may still be able to do sedentary work despite their symptoms making a continuation of more physical work impossible.
If a benefit application is denied for this reason, you may need to appeal the decision if permanent impairment because of lupus makes sedentary work impractical.
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It can be an exhausting and frustrating experience applying for a disability benefit after a lupus diagnosis. You are advised to get help from a disability lawyer at any stage of the benefit application process.