Rashes, fever, fatigue, and joint pain are just some of the symptoms that are associated with lupus. If the symptoms degenerate into serious issues, lupus can make working any job difficult to do.
Lupus patients that have lost their jobs because of the disease should seek financial assistance by applying for disability benefits. In addition to a detailed application, lupus patients should also send the Social Security Administration (SSA) medical evidence that supports the claim that lupus has produced severe financial distress.
The Importance of the Blue Book
The SSA uses a medical guide called the Blue Book to determine eligibility for disability benefits. There are three primary sections of the Blue Book:
- General information
- Evidence requirements
- Listing of impairments
Evidence requirements describe all the documentation the SSA deems acceptable. This includes the types of reports, examinations, and doctor notes the agency reviews to determine eligibility for disability benefits. As the last and longest section of the Blue Book, the listing of impairments lists 14 broad disease groups that immune disorders such as lupus.
As part of an immune disorder called mixed connective tissues disease (MCTD), lupus is defined by a large number of symptoms that range from mild to debilitating. Listed in Section 14.06 of the Blue, MCTD can force patients off the job for extended periods. To qualify for disability benefits, MCTD must affect at least two organs or body systems. MCTD also must include two or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe fatigue defined by exhaustion
- Significant body and/or mental disfunction
- High fever
- Involuntary weight loss
- Debilitating joint pain
Two or more symptoms also have to impact one of the following:
- Activities of daily living
- Interacting in social settings
- Completing job tasks
If you do not meet the Blue Book criteria for lupus, you can undergo a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment focuses solely on how your lupus symptoms have impacted your job performance. A medical examination conducted by a team of SSA healthcare professionals determines the maximum amount of work you can complete under typical working conditions.
An RFC assessment is not a substitute for a review using the SSA Blue Book. Instead, an RFC assessment is the second tool you use to confirm the severity of lupus symptoms.
Collect and Organize Medical Evidence
The SSA wants applicants to submit the medical evidence collected by their primary care doctors. Here are some of the documents your primary care physician should send to the SSA:
- Results of every diagnostic test to rule out another disorder
- Longitudinal reports that describe the symptoms, treatments, complications, and medications
- Hospitalization records, including any time spent in an emergency room
- Laboratory reports that present evidence of how lupus has negatively impacted organs like the heart and kidneys
Although your primary care doctor is responsible for submitting medical evidence to the SSA, it is your responsibility to keep track of every document that your physician submitted.
You should also submit documentation that proves how lupus has cost you money in the form of lost wages. A statement written by your employer should support documentation like bank statements and digital paychecks.
Undergo a Free Case Evaluation
One of the first things a Social Security lawyer will do for you is put you through a free case evaluation. The evaluation determines the strength of your lupus claim. You might need to organize more medical documentation, as well as present more evidence that the disease has caused you significant financial harm.