Lupus affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation. Many people in Illinois will develop the condition between ages 15 and 44, or during their prime working years. Unfortunately, lupus can cause various symptoms that make working difficult or even impossible for affected individuals.
People suffering from lupus may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. However, victims will need to provide extensive documentation of the condition and the resulting disabling effects.
Criteria for qualifying
People with lupus may qualify for SSD benefits in two ways. Applicants may prove they meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus, which is recognized as a disabling condition in the SSA Blue Book of impairment listings. Alternately, applicants may document the limitations lupus causes and seek benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
To qualify under the Blue Book listing, people with lupus must prove the condition affects at least two organs or systems. The effects on one organ must be severe, or the person must suffer from at least two of the following symptoms:
- Discomfort or malaise
- Unintentional weight loss
Alternately, someone afflicted with lupus may qualify if the condition is ongoing and causes two of the above symptoms. The condition must additionally limit the individual’s ability to manage daily activities, function on a social level or complete tasks in a reasonable amount of time.
People who suffer from lupus but cannot meet these criteria may seek medical vocational allowances. A medical vocational allowance is granted if an individual proves his or her functional capabilities are severely limited, preventing gainful employment. An applicant can document functional limitations by asking a physician to complete a Residual Functional Capacity form. This form can provide a detailed evaluation of the limitations the applicant experiences as a result of the condition.
Providing adequate proof
People suffering from lupus should provide documentation of the diagnosis and the associated symptoms. Typically, the SSA only recognizes a diagnosis of lupus if the applicant experiences 4 out of 11 specified medical conditions. These conditions include malar rash, discoid rash, arthritis and photosensitivity, along with disorders of the renal, hematological, immunological or neurological systems.
The SSA accepts subjective evidence, such as a doctor’s observations, in addition to objective evidence, such as blood tests. A detailed doctor’s evaluation can be invaluable for people whose conditions do not meet the SSA’s lupus impairment listing. The evaluation can highlight aspects of an applicant’s disability that medical evidence alone might not reveal.