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Lupus and SSDI: What You Need To Know

By September 30, 2021June 26th, 20244 min read

Systematic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known as just lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting about five million people globally. However, women make up nearly 90% of all lupus cases. Lupus can range from mild to severe with some highly debilitating symptoms. Serious cases may even qualify for disability. If you have been diagnosed with lupus, you may be able to earn benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is a disabling physical condition that causes inflammation and pain as the immune system attacks healthy tissues instead of defending the body against infections. Since lupus often affects the entire body, symptoms can vary for each patient. However, skin rashes, joint pain and swelling, swelling in feet or eyes, extreme fatigue, anemia, pleurisy (chest pain when breathing deeply), abnormal blood clotting, hair loss, light sensitivity, and low fevers are among the most common. Internal organs like the heart and kidneys are also often affected.

Is Lupus Considered a Disability?

Lupus can be considered a disability. It has its own listing in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book. To qualify for lupus disability benefits, you must meet either medical or functional limitations criteria. Either way, your medical records must demonstrate that you have been diagnosed with lupus by your treating physician, your lupus involves at least two or more organs or body symptoms, and your lupus includes at least two major signs and symptoms that result in low physical and mental activity.

Lupus Disability Qualifications

Unfortunately, many lupus symptoms are difficult to observe, especially since they can affect any area of your body and not all at the same time or for the same duration. If you have been diagnosed with lupus, the SSA will examine you to ensure you received the correct diagnosis. The medical evidence needed to prove the diagnosis and severity of your lupus can include doctors’ notes, blood tests, and electrocardiography. Still, the evidence required will vary by the part of your affected body and the symptoms you experience. The SSA will need definitive proof of the presence of at least four of the eleven following criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology:

  • Photosensitivity
  • Oral ulcers
  • Arthritis
  • Discoid rash
  • Malar rash
  • Immunologic disorder
  • Neurologic disorder
  • Hematologic disorder
  • Renal disorder
  • Serositis
  • Antinuclear antibody

To qualify for disability with lupus, your diagnosis must also demonstrate that your condition impacts two or more organs/body systems at least moderately and that you have two or more constitutional symptoms or signs of lupus, including extreme fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss. You can also qualify for lupus disability by proving your condition causes two or more of the symptoms listed above and repeatedly limits social functioning, daily living activities, and completing tasks timely due to problems with pace, concentration, or persistence.

When to Work With an Attorney

Lupus symptoms can change in type and severity over time. They are also hard to observe, so it is important your medical records are as detailed and descriptive as possible. Remember that since lupus is an autoimmune disease, your immune system is also compromised, which puts you at greater risk for developing illnesses, infections, and other complications. If your condition seriously interferes with your ability to function appropriately, effectively, and independently, you may qualify for disability benefits. Attorneys can help you apply for these benefits and assist with an appeal if your claim is denied.