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Lyme Disease and SSDI benefits

First identified in Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975, Lyme disease is a tick borne disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi . The condition remains mysterious and a bit controversial with some sufferers complaining of conditions ranging from central nervous system disorders, meningitis, Bell’s palsy, depression, memory loss, and fibromyalgia.

The conditions can be more serious if the Lyme Disease is not immediately diagnosed and treated with proper medications. Other experts contend, however, that these conditions may not be related to Lyme disease at all.


Although Lyme Disease can be quite serious, it is rare. For instance, the condition is generally acquired after a bite by a tiny black-legged or deer tick which must remain attached to a person for 24 hours. Most tick bites will not result in the transmission of Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease can I get SSDI benefits?

To win SSDI benefits a claimant must prove they have a severe health condition which does not allow them to work or perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also meet nonmedical requirements for SSDI. For instance, they must have worked and paid into the SSA system and be considered “insured” for SSDI benefits.

To determine whether your condition is severe enough to win SSDI benefits the SSA will evaluate whether your condition is listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments (a general list of conditions and their symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling).

If your condition does not “meet or equal” a listed condition, the SSA will determine if you have the residual capacity to work through a medical vocational allowance.

Lyme Disease and Meeting an SSA Listing of Impairments

Although Lyme Disease does not have a specific listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments, the SSA does recognize that it can cause severe, debilitating health conditions.

For example, if your immune system has been compromised by Lyme Disease the SSA will evaluate your condition under Listing 14.00 Immune System Disorders, Section 14.09 Inflammatory arthritis.

Under this section, the SSA will evaluate if you have “persistent inflammation or persistent deformity one or more major peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively; one or more major peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively, or inflammation or deformity in one or more major peripheral joints involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).”

Other severe health conditions such as meningitis, Bell’s palsy, depression, memory loss, and fibromyalgia cab also be so severe that they could meet or equal a listing in the SSA Bluebook. Talk to your doctor or a disability lawyer if you have questions about how to prove your Lyme Disease meets or equals a listing.

Winning benefits through a medical vocational allowance

If your Lyme Disease or the resulting symptoms are not severe enough to meet or equal a listing you may still be awarded SSDI benefits if you can prove you do not have the residual functional capacity to work. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about this process.

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