Social Security Disability for People With Autoimmune Disorders

Doctors have identified at least 80 different autoimmune diseases. Most of these diseases have no cure, and some of them may result in lifelong disabilities. If you are one of the millions of Americans with an autoimmune condition, we encourage you to learn more about your potential eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

Autoimmune System Disorders in the Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments

One way to qualify for disability benefits is for your medical condition to meet the requirements of one of the Social Security Administration's Listings of Autoimmine Disease Book and Stethoscopeimpairments (also known as the Blue Book).

Section 14.00 of the Social Security Administration's Listing of Impairments includes autoimmune disorders. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), "Autoimmune disorders are caused by dysfunctional immune responses directed against the body's own tissues, resulting in chronic, multisystem impairments that differ in clinical manifestations, course, and outcome. They are sometimes referred to as rheumatic diseases, connective tissue disorders, or collagen vascular disorders."

You may qualify for many of the autoimmune conditions included in Section 14.00 if you can prove that you experience two of the following: severe fatigue, fevers, malaise, or involuntary weight loss and either: (1) two of your body systems are impacted, one with at least a moderate level of severity, or (2) you have significant limitations to your everyday activities, your ability to take part in regular social functions, or your potential to focus on the work or tasks at hand. These conditions include:

  • Lupus. Section 14.02 identifies Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) as a condition that makes you eligible for disability benefits in the circumstances described above.
  • Vasculitis. Systemic vasculitis is included in Section 14.03, and you may qualify for disability based on the qualifications discussed above.
  • Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease. This autoimmune condition is included in Listing 14.06. Like lupus and scleroderma, you may qualify for disability based on the criteria described in the paragraph before this list.
  • Sjögren's syndrome. Listing 14.10 allows people with Sjögren's syndrome to qualify for disability based on the criteria listed in the paragraph above this list.

Other autoimmune conditions in the SSA Listing of Impairments include:

  • Scleroderma. Section 14.04 explains why systemic sclerosis, or scleroderma, is a disability. There are several different ways to qualify for benefits. As with other autoimmune conditions, you may qualify if two body systems are impacted, one with at least a moderate level of severity, and if you experience two of the following: severe fatigue, fevers, malaise, or involuntary weight loss. Additionally, you may qualify if you experience specific conditions in your toes, fingers, lower extremities, or upper extremities.
  • Polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Section 14.05 describes five different ways you may qualify for disability with one of these conditions. You may qualify if you have: (1) pelvic or shoulder muscle weakness and meet specific medical criteria; (2) impaired swallowing due to muscle weakness; (3) impaired respiration due to muscle weakness; (4) Diffuse calcinosis with limitation of joint mobility or intestinal motility; or (5) you experience two of the following: severe fatigue, fevers, malaise, or involuntary weight loss and you have significant limitations to your activities, social functioning, or concentration, persistence, or pace.
  • Inflammatory arthritis. Listing 14.09 describes four ways you may qualify for disability benefits, including (1) persistent inflammation or deformity of a major peripheral joint in a lower extremity or in each upper extremity that meets certain medical criteria; (2) inflammation or deformity of a major joint in an upper or lower extremity that meets certain medical criteria; (3) Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies; or (4) repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis during which you experience two of the following: severe fatigue, fevers, malaise, or involuntary weight loss and you have significant limitations to your activities, social functioning, or concentration, persistence, or pace.

What If Your Autoimmune Condition Is Not in the Listing of Impairments?                                                                     

Don't worry if your autoimmune condition is not included in the SSA's Blue Book. You may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if:

  • Your condition is equal in severity to one of the Blue Book listings.
  • You cannot work because of a disability that is expected to last for at least 12 months or cause your death.

Regardless of how you qualify for disability benefits, you will need to provide a detailed, complete, and accurate disability application to the Social Security Administration.

How to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits for Your Autoimmune Disease

Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers can help you get the benefits you deserve. We will handle every step of the process, beginning with your application submission. Please contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer