Living with sarcoidosis can be challenging, particularly if the disease has become debilitating—preventing you from performing even the most basic day-to-day activities. If you’re unable to work because of your sarcoidosis, you may be eligible for Social Security (SS) disability benefits. Because the application process for benefits can be lengthy and complex, working with an experienced disability attorney is the best way to secure any benefits you may deserve.
What Is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a serious autoimmune inflammatory disease that can affect a number of organs in the body but often starts in the lungs. The disease causes immune system cells to form in lumps or nodules known as granulomas that can alter an organ's structure or negatively impact its ability to function. Depending on which parts of the body are affected, sarcoidosis can cause a wide range of uncomfortable to debilitating symptoms, including:
- Persistent dry cough and/or shortness of breath
- Swollen, painful joints
- Kidney stones
- Rash-like red bumps or patches on the skin
- Blurred vision, or swollen, red, or teary eyes
- Enlarged lymph glands in the neck, armpits, groin, chest, and surrounding the lungs
- Enlarged liver
- Pain in bony areas such as hands or feet caused by the formation of bone cysts
- Heart arrhythmias or heart failure
- Nervous system problems such as seizures, hearing loss, and meningitis
- Psychiatric disorders such as depression, dementia, and psychosis
Sarcoidosis can range in severity from mild cases that clear up on their own to chronic cases that can make life extremely difficult. However, because many cases of sarcoidosis are moderate and can be managed with medication, it’s not a condition that automatically qualifies you to receive SS disability.
Who Suffers From Sarcoidosis?
Anyone can suffer from sarcoidosis. However, some demographics are more prone to developing the disease than others. For example, sarcoidosis is most often diagnosed in patients who are between 20 and 40 years old and in women more frequently than in men. Your ethnicity and family's country of origin can also affect your chances of a sarcoidosis diagnosis—the disease is up to 17 times more common among African Americans than Caucasians. It also disproportionately affects people of Puerto Rican, German, Scandinavian, and Irish origin.
Even though sarcoidosis isn’t cited in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) “Blue Book” as a disability, it’s still possible to receive disability benefits for this condition. However, in order to get them, you must show that your case has become totally debilitating by:
- Providing an official medical diagnosis and supporting documentation from your medical provider
- Presenting the symptoms of your sarcoidosis in a way that shows the condition compares to the criteria of a condition listed in the SSA's Blue Book
- Showing that your severe sarcoidosis has left you unable to work for at least 12 months
When the symptoms of your sarcoidosis don't meet the SSA Blue Book criteria for disability, you can use the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form to help with your disability claim. Completed by the doctor who treats your sarcoidosis, the RFC form comprehensively examines your diagnosis and treatment, as well as how the symptoms of the disease affect your ability to complete work-related tasks. This form may include your ability to follow a regular routine without supervision, comprehend and follow instructions, make occupation-related decisions, concentrate on the job, and interact appropriately with others in the workplace. The SSA will use the information included in the RFC form from your doctor when deciding whether to approve your application for benefits.
If You Struggle With Sarcoidosis
Living with a chronic illness can be difficult. If your sarcoidosis makes it impossible for you to hold a job, you may be entitled to SS disability benefits. The knowledgeable legal team at Keefe Disability Law has extensive experience handling cases just like yours. Our compassionate attorneys are ready to guide you through the application process and work to help you receive the benefits you may deserve. Call our office today for a free case evaluation, or reach out to us on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.