Polymyositis and Social Security Disability

Polymyositis is a very difficult and debilitating condition to live with. Those who suffer from the disorder often find the simplest of everyday tasks nearly impossible to accomplish. Needless to say, maintaining full-time work is out of the question when a severe case of polymyositis arises. This can cause significant financial burden, which is compounded by increasing disability-related medical expenses. Fortunately, in many cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help. If you have been diagnosed with polymyositis and are wondering how the condition can qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information will help you understand the disability claim process and how you can increase your chances of a hassle-free approval of your Social Security Disability payments.

Polymyositis - Condition and Symptoms

Polymyositis is a type of muscle disease referred to as an inflammatory myopathy. The condition causes chronic muscle inflammation of the skeletal muscles which results in significant muscle weakness. Polymyositis most commonly affects individuals between the ages of 31 and 60, although it has been seen in younger adults and even children on occasion.

Individuals who develop polymyositis will initially experience muscle weakness in the muscles that are closest to the trunk of the body. This muscle weakness eventually leads to difficulty performing normal daily tasks, such as walking up a flight of stairs or getting out of a chair. The individuals who develop this condition may also experience arthritis, difficulty swallowing, speech problems, shortness of breath and heart rhythm abnormalities.

Unfortunately there is no cure for polymyositis. Instead, doctors will focus on treating the symptoms of the condition. Common treatments include physical therapy, heat therapy, assistive orthopedic devices and, in some cases, bed rest. Corticosteroid drugs are also given, sometimes in pill form and sometimes through intravenous therapy. It is also common for a patient suffering from polymyositis to be provided with immunosuppresive medications, which can help treat the inflammation of the disease.

While many of the individuals who seek therapy for their polymyositis respond well to the prescribed treatment, some of the more severe cases will not respond to therapy. These individuals are left with significant disabilities and are unable to maintain substantial gainful activity. In cases such as these, Social Security Disability benefits may be warranted.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Polymyositis

Those who suffer from severe polymyositis will be relieved to discover that the condition is included in the SSA's Blue Book of Medical Listings under Section 14.05. According to this listing, an individual who suffers from polymyositis may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if he or she has had a documented diagnosis using muscle biopsy or electromyography. The individual must also suffer from muscle weakness in the pelvic area or shoulders, which results in an inability to move effectively or to perform fine and gross movements as defined in Section 14.00C6 and 14.00C7 of the Blue Book. An individual can also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with this condition if he or she suffers from impaired swallowing with aspiration due to muscle weakness, impaired breathing and diaphragmatic muscle weakness or diffuse calcinosis with limitation of joint mobility or intestinal motility.

The Blue Book Medical Listing goes on to say that an individual may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if their case of polymyositis results in repeated manifestations that display at least two of the symptoms or signs of the condition, such as fatigue, malaise, involuntary weight loss or fever and at least one of the following:

  • Limitation of activities of daily living.
  • Imitation in maintaining social functioning.
  • Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.

If you are disabled and unable to work due to the above symptoms, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have sufficient medical evidence to prove your condition.

Polymyositis and Your Social Security Disability Case

It is very important to understand that nearly 70 percent of the Social Security Disability claims received each year are denied by the SSA during the initial stage of the application process. This is why it is very important that you provide as much information to the SSA as possible when submitting your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. A complete copy of your medical history (including lab reports including a muscle biopsy results or electromyography results) and treatment records should be sent along with your disability claim forms. Also make sure that you are as detailed as possible when answering the questions that are asked of you. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for the adjudicator reviewing your file to understand the severity of your disabling condition.

If you are looking to file for disability benefits or have already been denied, you should consider contacting a disability attorney. Your attorney will be knowledgeable about the Social Security system and will be able to guide you through the disability process.

Additional Resources