Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the body's mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands. The tear ducts and salivary glands are the first affected, resulting in a dry mouth and eyes; however, Sjogren's can also cause chronic fatigue, a persistent dry cough, and joint and skin issues. In more severe cases, thyroid, kidney, liver, lung, and nerve damage can occur.
This condition affects between one and four million people in the United States, including tennis legend Venus Williams. While some people with Sjogren's syndrome are able to live relatively normal lives, others grapple with debilitating symptoms that make working or even completing basic daily tasks difficult, if not impossible.
If you suffer from severe Sjogren's syndrome that prevents employment or substantial gainful activity, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The Social Security Administration (SSA) added the condition to its “Blue Book” or Listing of Impairments in 2008. Here's what you need to know about qualifying for SSDI for Sjogren's syndrome, including how Keefe Disability Law's experienced Boston disability attorneys can help you navigate the application process and “meet the listing” to get the benefits you need and deserve.
Meeting the Listing for Sjogren's Syndrome
Getting approved for SSDI can be extremely difficult, but meeting a listing for your specific condition is often the easiest and most straightforward way to get much-needed benefits. According to Blue Book section 14.10, people with Sjogren's may qualify for SSDI benefits under one of these two circumstances.
- The condition affects multiple organs or systems, at least one of which is impacted to a moderate level of severity and causes two or more of the following constitutional signs and symptoms: severe fatigue, fever, discomfort, or involuntary weight loss.
- The condition causes repeated flare-ups (“manifestations”) with two or more of the constitutional signs and symptoms described above, markedly limiting activities of daily living, social functioning, or cognitive abilities.
Because Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, many people who suffer from this condition have other immune system ailments, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, which are also included in the Listing of Impairments.
Proving Your Eligibility
The SSA evaluates several types of evidence when determining your eligibility for SSDI.
- Evidence of your diagnosis. In addition to your complete medical history, you will also need to provide detailed notes from your doctor discussing your symptoms, as well as the results of diagnostic tests, such as blood antibody tests, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and immunoglobulins (IG) tests, liver and kidney panels, ophthalmologic tests, sialogram, and salivary scintigraphy (dental imaging) tests, and lip or salivary gland biopsies.
- Evidence of the syndrome's impact on your body. You must provide extensive medical evidence showing which organs and body systems are affected by Sjogren's, as well as the level of severity.
- Evidence related to the treatments you've tried. The SSA wants to know which treatments you've tried and how they've worked for you. You'll need to provide detailed information on the type, dosage, and frequency of any and all medications you've taken or are currently taking, lifestyle modifications you've made (such as using eye drops), surgical procedures you've had, and whether you've suffered from any related complications.
- Evidence of the condition's effect on your quality of life and ability to care for yourself. This means providing extensive documentation related to limitations of activities of daily living (such as difficulty maintaining personal hygiene, performing household chores, or paying bills), limitations in social functioning (such as problems communicating and interacting with others), and limitations in executive functioning and cognitive abilities (such as trouble following instructions or completing projects on schedule).
Find Out How Our Boston Disability Lawyers Can Help You Apply for SSDI
Applying for SSDI is a grueling and lengthy process. Sadly, the majority of first-time applicants are denied benefits, often due to preventable errors in the application paperwork or failing to provide sufficient medical evidence. At Keefe Disability Law, we help clients fight for the benefits they deserve. Complete our online contact form or call 508-283-5500 (toll-free 888-904-6847) to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation. For more information, request a complimentary copy of Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.
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If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.