Can I get disability if I have an Autoimmune Disorder?
If you are suffering from an Autoimmune Disorder you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The SSA has specific language and conditions related to qualifying for benefits while experiencing symptoms of Autoimmune Disorders so if it has impacted your ability to work you should seek assistance.
Approximately 50 million Americans are affected by autoimmune disorders. Seventy-five percent of those affected are women with Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans at increased risk.
When an autoimmune disease occurs, the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Normally, when a harmful substance such as bacteria, toxins or a virus enters the body, the immune system produces antibodies to protect the body against the invader, called an antigen.
In an autoimmune disorder there is an abnormally high or an abnormally low level of activity present in the immune system. The body fails to distinguish between healthy tissue and antigens and consequently produces antibodies that destroy the body’s own tissue instead of fighting the infection. There is currently no known cause for autoimmune disorders, but one theory suggests that bacteria, viruses, or drugs may trigger some change in the body that confuses the immune system.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from an Autoimmune Disorder. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
There are at least 80 different autoimmune diseases that can affect one or more organs or tissues in the body including muscles and joints, blood vessels, endocrine glands such as the thyroid or pancreas, and the skin.
Some examples of autoimmune diseases are:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis. The immune system attacks joints and the lining of joints causing inflammation, swelling, pain and sometimes permanent damage to the joints.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus). Antibodies attack tissue throughout the body such as joints, lungs, blood cells, nerves and kidneys.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines causing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The immune system attacks nerve cells causing pain, weakness, poor coordination, muscle spasms and blindness.
- Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. Immune system antibodies attack and destroy insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The immune system attacks nerves controlling muscles in the legs and sometimes upper body and arms.
- Psoriasis. Overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect on the skin, forming scaly plaques.
- Celiac Disease. The immune system reacts to gluten contained in wheat, rye and barley and damages the lining of the small intestine.
Autoimmune disorders frequently run in families and a person may have more than one autoimmune disorder at the same time.
Symptoms vary and may fluctuate between periods of remission with few or no symptoms and sudden flare-ups. Typically, a person will experience fatigue, fever, inflammation and general malaise. Some of the tests employed to diagnose autoimmune disorders include:
- Autoantibody test. Identifies specific antibodies to your body’s tissues.
- Antinuclear antibody test. Searches for antibodies that attack the nuclei of cells.
- Complete blood count. Measures red and white blood cells. The blood count will vary from normal to elevated (when the body is fighting an invader).
- C-reactive protein (CRP) level test. An elevated CRP indicates inflammation somewhere in the body.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This test measures the amount of inflammation in the body.
Currently there is no known cure for autoimmune disorders, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing complications.
In addition to pain medications, some treatments used are:
- Immunosuppressive medication.
- Hormone replacement therapy.
- Blood transfusions.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Physical therapy.
Herbal medications, acupuncture and hypnosis have also been found helpful in some cases of autoimmune disorder and, as in other diseases and disorders, taking charge of your health plays a big part in managing your condition.
If you have an autoimmune disorder, it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get plenty of rest as well as regular exercise. Decrease stress, avoid exposure to the sun, and avoid known triggers. Your doctor may also recommend vitamins and supplements.
The Social Security Administration recognizes autoimmune disorders in their Bluebook under Section 14. Immune System Disorders.
1. We evaluate immune system disorders that cause dysfunction in one or more components of your immune system.
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2. Autoimmune disorders (14.00D). Autoimmune disorders are caused by dysfunctional immune responses directed against the body’s own tissues, resulting in chronic, multisystem impairments that differ in clinical manifestations, course, and outcome. They are sometimes referred to as rheumatic diseases, connective tissue disorders, or collagen vascular disorders. Some of the features of autoimmune disorders in adults differ from the features of the same disorders in children.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you have an autoimmune disorder and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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