Scleroderma is a disease that most people have probably never heard of, yet it affects around 300,000 people in the United States. Since June is National Scleroderma Awareness Month, it is a good chance to become familiar with the disease and find out how to apply for SSDI benefits if you or someone you know becomes disabled due to Scleroderma.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, one of a number of diseases that occur when the body’s immune system backfires. Specifically, Scleroderma results from an over-production of a protein called known as collagen, and can be both external and internal. The symptoms of scleroderma vary from person to person, making it very hard to diagnose. Most commonly, scleroderma results in patches of hardened, shiny, thickened skin that are painful and can restrict movement. Another common signs of scleroderma are the development of Raynaud’s disease, an extreme sensitivity to cold, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD.
Scleroderma can be so minor in some individuals that it doesn’t affect their way of life, while for other with more serious cases, it is debilitating. The type of scleroderma that is internal is particularly dangerous; as it can interfere with the function of blood vessels and major organs such as the heart and lungs, and in some cases, result in death.
Although there is not yet a cure for scleroderma, there are a number of treatments to ease the symptoms, including medications to widen blood vessels and increase circulation, suppress the immune system, and treat acid reflux. In some cases, surgery can be used to remove skin patches to increase mobility and for cosmetic purposes. Exercise seems to help by improving circulation and flexibility.
Chronic autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma can be some of the hardest to diagnose conclusively because they result in a variety of symptoms that may come and go, decrease or worsen over the course of a person’s life. For this reason, scleroderma is often misdiagnosed or goes undetected until it becomes worse. This also makes it hard to provide conclusive evidence for the disease when applying for Social Security Disability benefits, even though Scleroderma can qualify you as disabled.
If you are sure that you are suffering from scleroderma and are unable to work because of it, it is best to obtain extensive medical documentation from a variety of specialists in the affected body areas. The more medical proof there is to point to the existence of scleroderma, the more likely you are to be accepted for SSDI benefits. The list of disabling conditions on the SSA’s website is helpful in determining what criteria you will have to meet in order to be determined disabled.
In addition to gathering sufficient medical evidence to prove you have chronic and debilitating scleroderma, it is recommended that you enlist the help of a disability lawyer who specializes in helping clients win Social Security Disability cases. They will know the ins and outs of the system and how best to ensure your application receives a favorable response.