Nobody wants to think about ticks or about what happens when they bite us and begin to feed on our blood. Unfortunately, if you live in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire, this is a subject you can’t avoid.
A black-legged tick bite can cause Lyme disease. Sometimes, Lyme disease responds well to antibiotics and the condition goes away. For these people living with Lyme disease, life returns to normal, and they can continue working just as they did before the tick bite. However, other people may suffer lifelong disabilities and qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
When Lyme Disease Is Disabling
Within the first few days or weeks of being infected, you may feel like you have the flu. Your head hurts, your body aches, and you feel sick. As the disease continues to progress, symptoms may become worse if you don’t get treatment or if your treatment isn’t working. You may suddenly suffer muscle or joint pain. In some cases, you may even experience shooting pains, heart problems, memory loss, or other cognitive changes.
Without treatment or if treatment doesn’t work, you may enter the worst stage of Lyme disease, stage three. In stage three, or late disseminated Lyme disease, the bacteria has spread throughout your body and can cause significant health problems.
Stage three Lyme disease, chronic Lyme disease, or post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome may cause:
- Arthritis and joint problems. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, about 60% of people with untreated Lyme disease develop inflammatory arthritis in their knees, elbows, or wrists.
- Nervous system problems. Lyme disease nervous system problems include meningitis, Bell’s palsy, nerve problems, or pain or weakness in the hands, arms, feet, or legs.
- Heart problems. Lyme disease can cause a lower heart rate and make a person more susceptible to fainting.
Other health problems may include sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, problems with mental function, and speech difficulties. These conditions may be lifelong and can impact your ability to work.
How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
How you qualify for Social Security disability benefits will depend on how Lyme disease impacts you. You may qualify for benefits by meeting a specific listing in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. While there is no specific listing for Lyme disease, you may qualify for benefits pursuant to one of the following listings if you qualify based on your unique symptoms:
- Section 1.00 – Musculoskeletal System
- Section 4.00 – Cardiovascular System
- Section 12.00 – Mental Disorders
- Section 14.09 – Inflammatory Arthritis
Alternatively, you may prove to the Social Security Administration that your condition is equal in severity to a condition in the Listing of Impairments or that you do not have the residual functional capacity to work.
You will need medical evidence regardless of how you qualify for Social Security disability. Medical evidence may show:
- That you are unable to perform physical labor. If Lyme disease prevents you from being able to walk as you once did, move, or lift heavy objects, then you may qualify to receive Social Security disability. In your application, use medical evidence—such as doctors’ statements—and detailed journaling of your symptoms to show how Lyme disease has limited your physical capabilities.
- That you are unable to do sedentary work. Lyme disease can also impact your mental state, which can prevent you from being able to work in a sedentary position. By getting statements from medical professionals such as your doctor, psychologists, or anyone else who may have diagnosed you with a cognitive disability, you can show that you may not be able to perform sedentary work.
How a Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help You
Lyme disease may limit your ability to work, and it may be time to file a Social Security disability application. With help from a New England Social Security disability attorney, you can learn how to fill out your Social Security disability application for Lyme disease in a way that will maximize your chance of getting the benefits you need. Call us today, or start a live chat with us anytime, to learn more about how to get the Social Security disability benefits you’ve earned.