Individuals with serious health conditions that impact their ability to work may be relieved to learn about the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. SSDI was created to offer financial assistance to those facing long-term injuries or illnesses.
To make it easier to determine which individuals qualify for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) created the Blue Book. This online manual, also referred to as the Listing of Impairments, includes all of the medical conditions that are considered severe enough to earn SSDI benefits.
How the Blue Book Can Help You Medically Qualify for Disability with MCTD
Immune disorders are challenging, and mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) is no different. This rare condition is characterized by features commonly seen in systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, and polymyositis. While the early stages of MCTD might cause fatigue, joint pain, and fever, those with more advanced disease might suffer from serious related complications such as problems with the lungs or heart. As MCTD is a progressive disease, many people eventually must stop working due to the condition.
According to the Blue Book, MCTD is diagnosed when the clinical features and blood test results of two or more immune diseases overlap. MCTD is listed in section 14.06 of the Blue Book, undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease.
To be approved for benefits for MCTD, individuals must have involvement of two or more organs or body systems with one of the organ systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity. Additionally, at least two of the following constitutional signs or symptoms must be present:
- Severe fatigue as defined by a frequent sense of exhaustion that results in significantly reduced physical activity or mental function
- Malaise as defined by a frequent feeling of illness, body discomfort, or lack of well-being that results in significantly reduced physical activity or mental function
- Involuntary weight loss
Alternatively, one could be approved for disability benefits with at least two constitutional symptoms present and one of the following:
- Limitation of activities of daily living
- Limitation in maintaining social functioning
- Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace
As with all conditions evaluated by the SSA, applicants with MCTD must have been disabled for a year, or be expected to be impacted by MCTD for at least a year, to be considered for disability benefits.
What Evidence Do I Need to Win My MCTD Claim?
Individuals with MCTD will need to provide the SSA with a complete medical history, including a physical examination completed by their doctor. Your physician should carefully document all of your symptoms, especially the constitutional symptoms noted above.
As with most autoimmune diseases, MCTD is a progressive disease that while at first may be mild, often becomes worse over time. Therefore, a longitudinal health record showing your disease progression is essential medical evidence.
Those with MCTD will need to provide reports of laboratory findings, such as results of the antinuclear antibody (ANA) blood test. Additionally, any medical imaging relevant to your disease should also be included in your application.
The SSA will want to know what treatments you have received thus far for your MTCD, as well as your response to the prescribed treatments.
Can A Lawyer Help Me Win My Claim for MCTD Disease?
Mixed connective tissue disease is a complex condition with varied presentations depending on the person. As the symptoms of the illness may fall under several Blue Book criteria, it’s helpful to hire an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the complex Social Security disability application process.