Epstein-Barr Virus and Qualifying for Disability Benefits
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Epstein-Barr Virus?
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
Epstein-Barr virus is not listed as an impairment in Social Security’s Blue Book so in order to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits with EBV an applicant must show the severity and extent of their condition is equal to or greater than an impairment listed in the Blue Book or their condition prevents the applicant from working at any job they have experience for or for which they could be trained. A qualified disability attorney could help increase your chances for approval.
Though 95% of adults are infected at some point in their life, most do not show any symptoms and develop an immunity to it. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can cause chronic fatigue, joint pain and difficulty concentrating, but because these symptoms and others rarely last even 12 months, it is unlikely that an individual would be considered disabled with a diagnosis of EBV alone.
Epstein-Barr is the virus that causes mononucleosis and is known as the “kissing disease” because one way it is spread is through a person’s saliva.
In addition to kissing, EBV can be spread by drinking from the same glass, using the same toothbrush, blood transfusions, organ transplants and sexual contact. Symptoms can take four to six weeks to appear and are often mild, particularly in children who may feel like they have a cold or a flu.
Those who do have symptoms will usually experience any of the following:
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Weak and sore muscles
- Lack of appetite
- Skin rash
- Enlarged spleen
While most people feel better in two to four weeks, chronic fatigue and other symptoms can last for months.
EBV remains in the body long after a person recovers and may become active months or years later, making the person contagious again. A person doesn’t have to show symptoms to infect another person.
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 Epstein-Barr Virus. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
It is difficult to diagnose EBV by its symptoms because a fever, sore throat or fatigue could be signs of another illness, like a cold or the flu.
A doctor will look for an enlarged spleen (the organ that filters blood), swollen liver and white patches on the tonsils. The most accurate diagnosis comes from a serum blood test that detects EBV antibodies.
Epstein-Barr virus can’t be treated with antibiotics.
Patients are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, gargle with salt water and take aspirin and ibuprofen. Even though most cases resolve on their own, occasionally EBV leads to complications and an increased risk for other conditions, such as:
- Rupture of the spleen
- Type 1 diabetes
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
- Immune system infections
- Blood infections
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Conditions that affect the nervous system, such as encephalitis, meningitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Mutations in cells infected with EBV can lead to cancerous changes in other cells and while these occurrences are rare, EBV has been associated with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal cancers, some stomach cancers and possibly breast cancer.
Epstein-Barr virus is not listed as an impairment in Social Security’s Blue Book so in order to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits with EBV an applicant must show:
- The severity and extent of their condition is equal to or greater than an impairment listed in the Blue Book; OR
- Their condition prevents the applicant from working at any job they have experience for or for which they could be trained.
An applicant’s condition must last or be expected to last 12 months; if Social Security determines the applicant’s condition will not last at least 12 months, their application will be denied.
Additionally, the applicant must not earn more than $1,470 per month (2023) (known as Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA).
Before assessing an applicant’s limitations, Social Security will want to confirm that EBV has caused a “medically determinable impairment” or MDI.
For example, if an applicant’s main symptom is chronic fatigue, Social Security will evaluate their condition according to its listing for chronic fatigue syndrome. Social Security will need objective medical evidence, such as an antibody test. If Social Security determines an applicant’s symptoms are severe, it will next evaluate the applicant’s physical and mental limitations to see if they qualify for disability by conducting a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC). Many people applying for disability with EBV have chronic fatigue syndrome and cannot work an 8-hour day, or have pain in muscles and joints that limits their ability to lift objects or bend. Some individuals have difficulty concentrating and cannot complete tasks in an acceptable amount of time. As a result, some applicants are unable to perform even unskilled labor.
When filing a claim for disability with EBV, you should ask your doctor to provide a statement describing in detail how EBV limits your abilities and affects your daily activities.
Include all medical documentation for EBV as well as medical records for any other disabling conditions you might have. Continue to see your doctor when applying for SSDI. The Social Security Administration wants to make sure you have followed prescribed treatments and wants to know how you have responded.
If you have Epstein-Barr virus, but your disability does not match one of Social Security’s impairment listings, you may still be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another impairment; for example, arthritis or diabetes.
Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Security’s Blue Book. However, if an applicant has multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit an applicant’s ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks. Social Security will also evaluate how your limitations affect your ability to work (called a medical vocational assessment), taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education.
Most SSDI claims are initially denied and the denial rate for conditions like EBV is considerably higher.
If you have Epstein-Barr virus and it has impacted your ability to work, you should seriously consider consulting an attorney. A qualified Social Security Disability lawyer can review your case, saving time and improving your chances for success.
If you are unable to work due to your condition, you may be eligible for Long Term Disability or Social Security Disability Insurance. Applying for benefits is a complicated and difficult process. Many times people will call Social Security and they will be told their condition is not listed in the blue book (as is the case with Epstein Barr) and they will assume it’s impossible to get benefits. This is not the case. You are eligible for benefits for any condition that prevents you from working. Two-thirds of initial applications for Social Security Disability Insurance are denied. Most claims are won on appeal. If you are appealing or just starting to apply, it makes sense to have a professional help you. Someone who has been through the process before and knows what a successful application requires. The attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed have the experience and knowledge needed to help you present your claim successfully. They represent clients throughout central Texas. Call today 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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