Can I qualify for disability benefits if I am suffering from Lyme Disease?
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.
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. Lyme Disease is not listed but 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.
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.
Your Free Initial Consultation
At Bemis, Roach and Reed, if we can't help you, we will try to find the right attorneys for you.
We offer each of our prospective clients a free no obligation one hour phone or office consultation to see if we can help you and if you are comfortable with us. We know how difficult a time like this can be and how hard the decisions are. If we can be of assistance to you and help you find a solution to your issue we will even if that means referring you to another attorney.
Or simply call 512-454-4000
to schedule your
Let's get you Started:
If you could provide us with some basic information about your claim we will get right back with you with a free case evaluation and schedule your Free Consultation Today.