Obtaining Social Security Disability benefits for lupus is challenging. Although lupus is in the Blue Book listing of qualifying medical conditions, you must have medical evidence that supports your claim. The best way to get the benefits you need and deserve is to work with an experienced disability lawyer.
At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC, we assist individuals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and around Texas with disability claims for immune disorders such as lupus. We know that lupus can prevent you from working or performing daily activities and will provide you with compassionate representation, dependable service, and the personal attention you deserve.
We offer free consultations and will charge no attorney fees until we obtain benefits for you. Contact our EL Paso office today so we can start working on your claim.
Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an auto-immune disease that occurs when your immune system attacks healthy tissue in your body. The disease can affect multiple organs or body systems, such as the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Butterfly-shaped rash on the face
- Body rashes
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, confusion, and memory loss
Symptoms can periodically worsen or flare up and then improve; persistent cognitive symptoms can make it difficult to work, such as decreased cognition, memory, concentration (“lupus fog”), malaise, anxiety, depression, or severe fatigue.
The cause of lupus is unknown; however, it may result from a combination of genetics and environmental triggers, such as:
- Sunlight – Exposure to the sun may bring on lesions or internal responses
- Infections – An infection can bring about lupus or cause a relapse
- Medications – Certain blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics can trigger lupus
There is no cure for lupus. Treatment options include lifestyle and dietary changes, avoidance of sun exposure, and medications, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain, swelling, and fever associated with lupus
- Antimalarial drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, to minimize lupus flares
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to reduce the inflammation of lupus
- Immunosuppressants to stop the autoimmune response
- Biologics, such as belimumab, administered intravenously to reduce lupus symptoms
Does Lupus Qualify For Disability Benefits?
Adults with lupus may qualify for disability benefits if their symptoms meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) official disability listing for systemic lupus erythematosus. In short, your medical record must show a diagnosis of lupus and two of the following four conditions:
- Fever with no other cause
- Severe fatigue – frequent exhaustion that limits activity
- Malaise – lingering feelings of illness or bodily discomfort
- Involuntary weight loss
In addition, you must have the medical limitations:
- Your disease must affect two or more body systems or organs (e.g. kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain) and
- At least one of the body systems or organs must be moderately or severely affected
Potentially affected organs or body systems include:
- Renal – decreased kidney function
- Respiratory – chest pain or inflammation of lung tissue
- Cardiovascular – inflammation of heart or blood vessels
- Neurologic – headache or seizures
- Blood – anemia, decrease in red or white blood cells or platelets
- Mental – anxiety and depression, lupus fog
- Inflammatory arthritis – occurring in fingers, hands, wrists, or knees
You might not meet the medical criteria if your disease affects only one organ or bodily system. However, if your condition prevents you from working a full-time job, you may qualify for benefits because of reduced functional capacity.
SSA will (1) assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether you can perform your job or any other type of work and (2) consider your medical records and doctors’ opinions about how your symptoms limit your ability to function.
Medical Evidence of Lupus Disability
Your medical records will be the deciding factor in your lupus disability claim, including:
- Results of a physical examination
- Lab results of blood work
- Medical imaging – X-rays, MRI/CT scans
- Biopsies (often of the kidneys) to diagnose your disease and its severity
- A doctor’s opinion stating that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working
Your medical records must show regular doctor visits over time and that you have been taking prescribed medication for at least three months before applying for benefits to determine if the symptoms continue despite the treatment. Because flare-ups are followed by periods of remission, visiting your doctor with each flare-up is essential to record your symptoms and their effect on your ability to function.
How We Can Help With Your Lupus Disability Claim
When you meet with us, we will explain the eligibility requirements for benefits, determine whether you have a valid claim, and handle all the details. Our disability attorneys will work closely with your doctor to gather the medical record supporting your claim.
We will assist with filing your initial claim and, if SSA denies it, handle your disability appeal and represent you at your disability hearing. Although navigating the process can be challenging, our experienced disability attorney will stand by you every step of the way.
Contact Our Experienced Texas Disability Attorneys
If you or a loved one cannot work due to lupus, you deserve disability benefits. Given the barriers to obtaining these vital resources, you need the Law Office of Carey Thompson at your side. Contact us today to get started with an experienced disability attorney.