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Autoimmune Disorders and SSA Disability Benefits

There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders recognized by medical experts. Autoimmune disorders result when an individual’s immune system or white blood cells, which protect the body from dangerous antigens such as cancer cells, viruses, toxins and bacteria, begin to attack healthy body tissue or organs.

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Autoimmune disorders lead to the destruction of healthy tissues and the normal antibodies produced by the body lose their ability to differentiate between healthy body tissue and antigens. Instead of ignoring the body tissue the body attacks itself and destroys it. It also can lead to changes in the functions of the organs.

Autoimmune disorders may negatively affect a claimant’s muscles, joints, red blood cells, skin, connective tissues, thyroid, pancreas or blood vessels. There are a number of common immune system disorders including celiac disease, Grave’s disease, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Addison’s disease.

Common Symptoms caused by Autoimmune Disorders

If you suffer from a severe autoimmune disorder you may have a variety of symptoms including fever, severe fatigue, cough, wheezing, rashes, diarrhea, and joint pain. Some symptoms may be so severe that you are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months and you may be wondering if you can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Winning SSDI or SSI for Autoimmune Disorders

The Social Security Administration has two methods to determine if a claimant is disabled and eligible to receive SSI or SSDI benefits: evaluating whether the claimant’s condition is so severe they meet a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book this list identifies all of the conditions which are considered automatically disabling) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Autoimmune Disorders

The SSA Listing of Impairments does have a listing for Autoimmune Disorders. It can be found under listing 14.00 Autoimmune Disorders and it includes systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic vasculitis, system sclerosis, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease, immune deficiency disorders (excluding HIV), HIV, inflammatory arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Having one of these conditions may not be enough to win benefits. You must also prove that your condition is so severe that the symptoms “meet or exceed” the symptoms outlined in the listing of impairments.

The SSA recognizes that immune system disorders will cause unusual infections, inflammation, and dysfunction of the body’s tissues, causing a loss of function either in one organ or multiple organs. The SSA also recognizes that due to the “symptoms or signs, such as severe fatigue, fever, malaise, diffuse musculoskeletal pain, or involuntary weight loss, can also result in extreme limitation” and these limitations include the inability of a claimant to perform substantial gainful activity.

Winning SSI or SSDI Benefits through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Many claimants will not meet the listing identified in the SSA listing of impairments but may be able to prove, through a medical vocational allowance, that they are unable to continue to perform their current job, previous job or retrain for new work. If your condition does not meet a listing it may be beneficial to have a disability lawyer review your SSDI or SSI claim and your medical records to determine how to prove your case.
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