Can I work with Lupus?

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Social Security Disability for Lupus

If you have been diagnosed with lupus and the symptoms are so severe you are unable to work, there are options for you to stay afloat. Social Security disability benefits for those with lupus are available. You may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits due to lupus.

Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, is a chronic disorder that can cause increasing damage to the body throughout time. While your symptoms may not be too severe initially, your condition can progress significantly causing severe impairments. While you may be able to work when first diagnosed, your condition can spiral quickly resulting in severe disabilities within a matter of months.

Systematic lupus erthymatosus (SLE), which is simply called lupus, causes your body’s autoimmune system to attack itself. The disease’s severity can result in varying levels of damage to joints, blood, the heart, lungs, skin, and kidneys. Lupus can be debilitating, causing severe and frequent exhaustion, fever, low physical and mental capacity, involuntary weight loss, malaise, and severe joint aches that impact mobility.

Lupus can also be diagnosed in conjunction with other conditions, such as arthritis. Because it is an autoimmune disease, multiple organs can be attacked. Each person with lupus can suffer different symptoms than someone else with the same disease. You can review the Blue Book to see if you qualify medically for benefits with Lupus or another condition.

If you are unable to work because of lupus, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Impacting Your Ability to Work

If you suffer severe symptoms from lupus, your ability to work and function normally can be significantly impacted. The joint damage can make your mobility be challenged. Damage to your skin can increase bruising and skin tears. The malaise, exhaustion, and fevers can impact your ability to concentrate and focus, plus your overall physical and mental capacity can be severely affected. This can prevent you from maintaining accurate records or handling administrative tasks as you would do in a managerial or executive role.

Damage to your kidneys or lungs can make standing or sitting for long periods a challenge. Regular repositioning may be a necessity for comfort. You may require frequent breaks and must undergo time-consuming treatments, such as regular dialysis for your kidneys or use of a nebulizer because of breathing problems. These two treatments can impact your availability for work tasks throughout the day. This would render you unable to work in manufacturing, sales, or customer service roles.

Limitations for Specific Jobs

If you suffer from joint pain, you may find yourself unable to lift, bend, carry, squat, or reach so you cannot do physical jobs such as work in shipping or receiving, stocking merchandise, or work in a warehouse. The malaise may make sitting or standing long periods impossible because of your pain and discomfort without frequent repositioning. Fevers and fatigue can make concentrating or staying focused for long periods almost impossible, so you can’t maintain records as required in administrative positions.

Your inability to concentrate and stay focused can make it impossible to work as an educator, in the healthcare field, or as a first responder. Your impaired mobility and lack of concentration can make working with equipment and machinery even more dangerous for yourself and coworkers. Kidney failure that requires dialysis, or lung problems that requires regular breathing treatments, can make handling any kind of work virtually impossible.

If you have lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder, and the condition is so severe that you are unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The chronic condition can lead to disabling symptoms, or you may experience symptoms that worsen over time. Lupus causes you’re an individual’s autoimmune system to attack itself. The severity of the condition affects its impact on the patient, but it can damage the heart, lungs, skin, joints, blood, and kidneys.

When lupus is advanced or severe, it can disable the individual. The symptoms include malaise, low mental and physical capacity, fever, severe joint aches that limit mobility, severe and frequent exhaustion, and involuntary weight loss. Often, lupus is diagnosed in conjunction with other conditions, including arthritis. The autoimmune disease can attack multiple organs, so everyone with the condition may suffer from different symptoms.

The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, is used to determine if an individual medically qualifies for disability benefits. There are strict criteria for each listing. Lupus would be evaluated under the listing for Immune System Disorders. To be approved for disability benefits with lupus, you must have at least two body systems or two organs that are affected by the disease. You must also experience other symptoms and signs consistently, such as weight loss, fever, or fatigue.

If you cannot specifically meet the criteria of the listing for autoimmune disorders with your lupus, you can still qualify for disability benefits by proving that your daily functioning is significantly compromised because of the severity of your lupus symptoms and because of the complications that you experience from the disease. Using the alternative approach for approval, you must have persistent weight loss, fever, fatigue, and other constitutional symptoms.

While sometimes the patient initially diagnosed with lupus may be able to function normally, the symptoms may worsen over time. The individual who could work at first may find themselves facing debilitating symptoms and mobility issues that affect their ability to perform routine daily activities as well as keep them from being able to work and earn a living.

Using A Medical Vocational Allowance and the RFC

You can be approved for disability benefits using a medical vocational allowance. Using this approach, a residual functional capacity (RFC) is completed. This is a detailed report that explains your restrictions and limitations. As an example, it may show that you cannot stand for more than one hour, or you may not be able to walk more than 500 feet or lift more than 5 pounds. Disability Determination Services (DDS) will review your case while considering your age, your restrictions and limitations, all your medical conditions, your age, your work history, transferrable skills, and educational background.

Taking it all into consideration, they will be able to determine what work – if any – you can do. If it is determined that you cannot work, you will be approved for monthly disability benefits. If you have a treating physician complete an RFC, and they show that you are very limited in your ability to function, and that you are unable to work, that can be beneficial to your claim. It will be given consideration when DDS is completing their RFC for you - the claimant.

Applying For Disability With Lupus

If you are unable to work because of lupus, you will want to apply for disability benefits from the SSA. The disability process can be complicated, and hard medical evidence and supporting documentation is essential to a successful claim. Most disability claims are denied on the initial review. In that case, you will need to file a request for reconsideration, so that your claim will be reconsidered, and you can provide additional evidence.
If the claim is denied a second time, as many claims are, you will request a hearing before an administrative law judge. When you go before a judge, there will most likely be a vocational expert there who will review the details of your case and determine what kind of work you can do or determine that you are unable to work. When you appear at the hearing, you will most likely want to be represented by a Social Security Disability attorney. An attorney can help prepare you for the questioning and gather supporting evidence and documentation for your claim.

Consult With A Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you are unable to work because of lupus and you are ready to apply for disability benefits, you may want to consult with a disability attorney who handles cases in your state. Claimants who are represented by a lawyer are much more likely to be approved for disability benefits. A disability attorney will gather the supporting documentation and medical records to support your claim and to show the severity of your condition and that you are unable to work.

Disability lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means you will not have to pay anything upfront. Instead, your attorney will not be paid until you win your claim and are approved for benefits. In most cases, disability attorneys receive 25 percent of your backpay up to a maximum of $6,000. When you retain a lawyer, they will go over the payment agreement with you.

You can start your disability application online at the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and speaking with a representative or by scheduling an appointment at your local SSA field office. Be sure to have a complete list of all your medical providers along with the contact details for them so your medical records can be accessed.

Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share the details of your condition with a law office in your area. You will then determine the best way to proceed with your claim for Social Security Disability because of your lupus and how it restricts you from working and earning a living.

Applying for Benefits

If you suffer from lupus and your symptoms make working impossible, you can apply for SSDI through the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are several ways to get the application process started. You can start the process online or by calling the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.

You can also visit your nearest SSA office to start the process by meeting face-to-face with a SSA employee. The claims process is very detailed with the average claim taking at least five months. Your claim can be denied twice, but you can appeal that decision. The final step is a hearing before an administrative law judge to rule on the case.

You must provide detailed documentation and thorough medical records that support your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment results, and side effects. Your records should indicate any symptoms you suffer along with their severity. Your doctor should also note any limitations or restrictions you have resulting from your medical condition. Consulting with a disability attorney can have a major impact on your claim. An attorney can increase your odds of being approved for monthly disability benefits significantly so you may want consider getting an attorney when you initially file your claim.