According to the Lupus Foundation of America, over 1.5 million Americans currently live with lupus. While research and treatment options are always improving, lupus is still a struggle for many people with severe symptoms.
If you or a loved one is experiencing daily difficulty because of lupus, disability benefits may be a helpful option. Millions of Americans in need receive monthly Social Security benefits for severe medical conditions, and your case may just be the next to qualify.
Step One: Determine how much your lupus limits you.
Before you apply for Social Security, it is wise to take note of all the ways your life is affected by your lupus diagnosis. This will not only help you decide whether disability benefits are for you, but may help with your application in the future when describing your case.
For example, lupus can lead to difficulties with multiple body systems, such as the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, or brain. Lupus-related inflammation in these areas can cause anything from anemia to blood clotting to general nausea, swelling, or pain. If a construction worker were diagnosed with lupus, these symptoms would greatly affect their ability to do their job.
Even someone with a less active job, such as office work, may have difficulties attending regularly because of the severity or frequency of their flare-ups. It may also make day-to-day activities more difficult, turning activities such as cooking food, caring for children, or maintaining the home into hefty chores.
If your situation is similarly complicated by your lupus, then it may be in your best interest to apply for disability benefits.
Step Two: Consult the Blue Book and retrieve test results confirming the severity of your lupus.
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks over applications, they are looking to see if applicants qualify as “totally and permanently disabled.” While lupus is rarely lethal, it is almost always chronic and has no problems qualifying as a long-term, debilitating illness. However, the SSA must also confirm that the lupus is severe enough to “totally and permanently” disable you. For this, they consult the “Blue Book,” a list of all SSA-approved disorders.
Lupus is listed under Blue Book Section 14: “Immune System Disorders – Adult.” To qualify, an applicant must have lupus that either a) affects two or more organs/body systems with moderate severity, or b) results in repeated fevers, fatigue, malaise, or involuntary weight loss, as well as a limitation of daily living, social functioning, or completing tasks.
To demonstrate these symptoms, you can provide the SSA with CAT scans, MRIs, x-rays, physicians’ notes, therapy notes, hospitalization records, medication lists, or testimonies from friends/family/coworkers/bosses on the severity of your case.
The more your lupus prevents you from living your normal life, the more likely you are to receive disability benefits.
Step Three: Gather tax info, work history, and prepare to fill out the application.
The Social Security disability application also requires more logistic financial information for an applicant to qualify. This information is used to help understand your lifestyle, assess your limitations, and determine which Social Security program you are better suited for.
Tax information is used to see the amount of money you have contributed to Social Security in the past. These contributions, which are also called “credits,” can be earned up to four times a year. If a person earns enough credits by the age at which they became disabled, then they may qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI).
Work history must also be evaluated in order to ensure that applicants have worked enough recently to qualify. For those that are under 18, unemployed, or have not earned enough credits to qualify, they may be better suited for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program instead.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
If disability benefits sound like a good fit for you, you may also want to consider consulting with a disability attorney. They can help when filling out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary. It is also required by law that disability attorneys do not receive payment unless you win your case.
To give yourself the best chance at receiving benefits for your lupus, consider speaking with a disability attorney today.