Can you get Disability Benefits if you are suffering from the effects of Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Author Attorney Lloyd Bemis:
If you suffer from Sjogren’s (pronounced SHOW-grins) Syndrome or another autoimmune system disease that causes you to be totally disabled and unable to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
Sjogren’s Syndrome: Functional Impairment and Disability
Sjogren’s Syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune disorders. In Texas and across the United States, as many as four million people are living with Sjogren’s Syndrome. The onset of Sjogren’s Syndrome may occur at any age, but it is typically diagnosed in individuals who are in their 40s. Approximately nine out of 10 cases are diagnosed in women.
Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s white blood cells attack mucous membranes and other moisture-producing glands. The most common outward symptom of Sjogren’s Syndrome is dry eyes and a dry mouth. However, it may cause dysfunction in other bodily organs, such as the kidneys, liver, pancreas, lungs, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, and the central nervous system. Additionally, individuals with Sjogren’s Syndrome may experience extreme fatigue and joint pain.
Sjogren’s Syndrome may exist as a stand-alone condition. It may also be diagnosed in conjunction with other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Individuals who have Sjogren’s Syndrome also have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.
The symptoms that accompany Sjogren’s Syndrome mimic other conditions and diseases. This often initially results in a delay or outright misdiagnosis of the syndrome. Diagnosis is further complicated by the fact that the symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome may remain steady, worsen, or (uncommonly) go into remission. The degree of impairment suffered by an individual with Sjogren’s Syndrome varies widely from mild discomfort to completely functional impairment.
Filing a Social Security Disability Claim for Sjogren’s Syndrome
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes Sjogren’s Syndrome as a disease which may, either alone or in conjunction with another disease or disorder, create a disability for purposes of SSD benefit eligibility. Because the symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome can vary so widely, the initial diagnosis of the disease often takes several years. In fact, on average it takes 4.5 years to get a correct medical diagnosis of the disease. If the diagnosis of the disease is prolonged, the symptoms may have worsened to the point where you are no longer able to work.
Under SSA rules, in order to be eligible for SSD benefits for Sjogren’s Syndrome, you must be totally disabled by the condition. Total disability means that you are unable to perform the duties of your job or any other job, and your disability must have lasted (or be expected to last) at least one year (or be expected to result in death).
Due to the complex nature of a multi-symptom disease such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, it is important to have an experienced Texas SSD attorney assist you with the filing of your SSD claim or to assist you with the appeal of any claim denial. At the law offices of Bemis, Roach & Reed, our Austin, Texas attorneys handle SSD claims from across the state. We are here to help you so contact us at (512) 454-4000.
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.
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 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. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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