Can I qualify for disability benefits if I am suffering from Lyme Disease?
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
In warm weather states like Texas fleas and ticks are a continual problem. Though we don’t hear about it often, Lyme disease is now endemic in Texas and becoming a serious public health concern.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled Lyme disease the fastest growing vector borne infectious disease (a disease transmitted by a bird, insect or animal).
Most cases appear in the upper midwest and northeastern states, but Texas A&M University’s Lyme Lab has noted a significant increase in the number of cases in Texas and along the Texas/Mexico border. Humans as well as dogs, cats, horses and cattle can be infected.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted by black-legged ticks.
The disease may begin with mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue. Some patients will notice a characteristic bull’s eye rash that appears days or even weeks later while others may not realize they have been bitten at all. Early symptoms usually lessen or disappear, though they may recur on a regular basis. Left undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme disease can become debilitating, spreading to the heart, joints and the nervous system.
Patients with Lyme disease are often untreated for various reasons.
Doctors in Texas may not recognize the symptoms or misdiagnose the patient due to a lack of definitive testing procedures. Some doctors do not acknowledge that Lyme disease even exists in Texas. As a result, some Texans seek help out of state. These difficulties are compounded by the CDC’s rigid reporting requirements and the Infectious Disease Society of America’s (IDSA) belief that there is no evidence to verify the existence of Lyme disease as a chronic condition. Some state medical boards have even reprimanded doctors for treating long-term Lyme patients with extended antibiotic regimens because they are not following standard guidelines for Lyme treatment.
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 Lyme Disease. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Because insurance providers base their coverage criteria on CDC and IDSA guidelines, they don’t recognize chronic Lyme disease as a legitimate, long-term illness.
Most insurance policies are clear about what they will and will not pay for when it comes to treating Lyme disease. For example, Aetna will cover only a four-week regimen of antibiotic treatment, claiming that further treatment has not been proven beneficial. The Texas Lyme Disease Association disagrees, stating that “Lyme disease is not a rare illness that is easy to avoid, difficult to acquire, and simple to diagnose; nor is it easily treated and cured. The longer the time elapsed between a tick bite causing infection and the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, the more likely the illness will be serious and long lasting, and the cost of treatment very high.”
Insurance companies may not recognize Lyme disease as a chronic disorder, but that does not change the fact that without proper medical treatment, Lyme disease may develop into carditis, arthritis and other neurological conditions which disable a person.
The effects of Lyme disease such as pain in muscles and joints, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, swelling, and weakness in the legs can make walking, standing or any physical activity impossible. Problems with sleeping and severe fatigue may also severely inhibit any type of work.
Although the Social Security Administration has no specific listing for Lyme disease in the blue book, if it can be proved that the effects of the disease severely impair your ability to maintain employment, you may qualify for disability benefits. If you suffer from Lyme disease and have questions about whether your illness qualifies as a disability, the experienced attorneys of Bemis, Roach and Reed can help. Call 512-454-4000 today and get the benefits you deserve.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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