Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system wrongly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, there are about 80 types of autoimmune diseases. These conditions affect up to 50 million Americans, including numerous Chicago residents.

Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to detect and diagnose. These diseases often cause similar symptoms, and some people suffer from more than one condition. Additionally, autoimmune diseases often alternate between remission and flare-ups. Some people may not even realize they suffer from these diseases.

A substantially limited immune system is considered a disability under the ADAAA and is entitled to ADA and ADAAA protections. The Social Security Administration (SSA) also recognizes autoimmune disorders in its Bluebook, and if an autoimmune disorder prevents someone from working, they may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Identifying autoimmune diseases

Diagnosing an autoimmune disease based on a person’s medical history and lifestyle can be difficult, since the cause of autoimmune diseases is unknown. Researchers believe viruses, bacteria, chemical irritants and environmental irritants may promote autoimmune diseases. The family members of people with autoimmune diseases may also be more likely to develop the conditions.

The symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases can be diverse. Most victims experience exhaustion, fever and malaise. Additional symptoms depend on the body part affected. These diseases most often harm skin or connective tissue, blood cells or vessels, muscles, joints and endocrine glands. Common autoimmune diseases include:

  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic vasculitis
  • Systemic sclerosis
  • HIV and other immune deficiency disorders
  • Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis

Autoimmune diseases can be conclusively diagnosed through lab tests. Tests to measure red and white cell counts or C-reactive protein can indicate immune system inflammation. Other tests can directly detect antibodies that attack a person’s own cells.

Even once an autoimmune disease is diagnosed, treating it can be difficult. These diseases are incurable, so treatment focuses on managing symptoms. Unfortunately, even with effective treatment, some people still experience adverse symptoms. Watch our video to learn more:


Immune disorders can be complex, but some, like lupus, vasculitis, undifferentiated connective tissue disorders, and Sjogren’s Syndrome, stand out because they only need a moderate level of severity for diagnosis. Let’s break it down:

  • Systemic Lupus: This affects organs like the skin, joints, kidneys, and heart. It comes and goes in flare-ups and can cause joint pain, rashes, and kidney problems.
  • Systemic Vasculitis: This causes inflammation in blood vessels, potentially affecting the skin, nerves, lungs, and kidneys, depending on how severe it is.
  • Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorders: These mimic other autoimmune conditions but don’t fit neatly into one category. They might cause joint pain, skin troubles, or systemic symptoms.
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome: This targets glands producing saliva and tears, causing dryness in the mouth and eyes. It can also impact the lungs, kidneys, and nervous system.

What’s unique is that these disorders don’t always need severe organ damage for diagnosis. Even moderate involvement, along with symptoms like fatigue, fever, or weight loss, can signal these immune issues.

Doctors use a mix of exams, tests, and sometimes biopsies to diagnose and then treat with medications to manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Recognizing these disorders early helps with better management and quality of life. If you have persistent symptoms, seek medical advice for proper evaluation and care. Understanding these conditions helps healthcare pros offer timely help for those affected.

Seeking financial support

Many people suffering from autoimmune diseases may not be able to work. These individuals may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify, an individual must have an adequate earnings record and sufficient proof of the disabling condition.

When an individual applies for SSD benefits, it’s crucial for his or her autoimmune disorder to be appropriately diagnosed. This ensures the application is filed under the correct impairment listing. The Social Security Administration then must find that the individual’s symptoms meet listing criteria or otherwise are severe enough to prevent employment.

If you suffer from an autoimmune disorder that prevents you from working you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Navigating a disability claim can be complex, but with the right approach and adherence to medical advice, you can significantly strengthen your case. Remember, it’s not just about qualifying for benefits; it’s about ensuring that all aspects of your health and medical care are appropriately managed and documented. If you need assistance or have questions about your case, please don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email.