Autoimmune Disorders and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Can I get disability if I have an Autoimmune Disorder?
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
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.
A client of ours from Katy, suffered from Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and gastroparesis.
Although her physician was an advocate of the client attempting to return to work, the restrictions he required were such that she remained totally disabled under the terms of the policy. According to a doctor of Principal’s choosing, she would have to begin work at 11:00 a.m. and leave work at 3:00 p.m. She would additionally require at least two sick days each month. The job would necessarily be sedentary to light and, should keyboarding be required, the client would require accommodation such as a voice recognition system. Simply put, no employer could reasonably be expected to accommodate such extreme restrictions. She was awarded disability benefits from the Social Security Administration; however, Principal denied her LTD benefits. We were able to get them reinstated.
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.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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