Lupus is a serious disease, and it can cause a major disruption to people’s lives. Some people with this condition are able to live many years with their symptoms in check by receiving treatment, but if the symptoms are no longer controllable with treatment, they might need disability benefits. Seeking Social Security disability insurance is one of the first steps that a person with lupus should do, but many people don’t know which documents to send in to optimize the likelihood that they’ll receive the benefits that they deserve. A qualified attorney can help.
What is Lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease that affects nearly 50 million Americans every year. It causes inflammation throughout the body, and since there’s no known cure, most people receive treatment to reduce the symptoms, which are usually localized to a specific area of the body. An autoimmune disease like systemic lupus erythematosus destroys the cells in the body by attacking it.
The onset of the disease is most common in people between the ages of 15 and 44. About 20% of people with lupus also have a family member that has the disease, and most professionals believe that there are people with a genetic predisposition. Ethnicity can also factor into the likelihood that a person will develop it, with Hispanic, African American, Pacific Islander, Asian American, and Native American people being at the highest risk.
Environmental stimuli, such as UV rays from the sun, some types of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, infections, and colds and other viruses, cause flare-ups. Exhaustion, stress, surgery, and other stressful conditions can also cause symptoms to worsen.
Finally, some doctors believe that estrogen plays a role in the development of this condition because it most often affects women, and women are more likely to experience a flare-up when they’re pregnant, just before menstruation, and other times when estrogen is highest.
While some people with this condition experience only a mild version of the disease, which lets them continue with their work almost like normal, when it goes untreated, it can flare up. This can make it more difficult for people to function normally at work and at home.
Symptoms of Lupus
This condition has several symptoms, and the ones that present themselves can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms include achy joints, fever, rash, fatigue, skin lesions, headaches, memory loss, shortness of breath, confusion, chest pain, and dry eyes. Some people might also have hair loss in patches, which is sometimes called alopecia areata.
Several diseases cause these symptoms, so people shouldn’t be too quick to self-diagnose as lupus. But understanding more about what to look for can help someone determine whether or not they have another disorder.
For instance, hair thinning will often come out in clumps, but it might also be an overall thinning of the hair. Some men will also lose hair in their beards or other parts of their bodies. Thinning hair is one of the first symptoms of this condition.
You should also know that the butterfly rash that appears on the face is one of the most defining and easy to recognize features of this condition. While not everyone gets the butterfly-shaped rash on their faces, it’s most likely to appear just before a flare-up.
Also, since kidney inflammation is one of the more serious complications to this condition, people should know the symptoms. One of the most common ways that kidney inflammation can be identified is by looking at a person’s urine, which will be darker in color. Some people might also notice blood in their urine.
People with this condition also often experience photosensitivity, which is a particular sensitivity to the UV rays in sunlight. This photosensitivity will cause many people with the condition to experience rashes, joint pain, internal swelling, and fatigue.
Treatments of Lupus
Right now, there are no known ways to cure this condition, but there are several ways that a person might try to control their symptoms. Typically the treatment goals fall into one of three categories: preventing flare-ups, treating symptoms when the patient has them, and reducing the damage that’s done to the joints and organs.
One of the most common ways that this condition is controlled is through lifestyle changes. For instance, a healthcare provider might recommend that a patient with the condition stay away from UV rays from the sun by wearing longer sleeves and plenty of sunscreen while out in the sun. A healthy diet full of vitamin D, calcium, and fish oil might also lessen symptoms. Finally, getting exercise and quitting smoking can help some people with this condition lessen their symptoms.
A doctor might also prescribe one or more of a range of medications. For instance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and pain, especially in the joints. Antimalarial medications can also help reduce the symptoms of lupus, especially when a woman is pregnant. For instance, rashes, joint pain, and fatigue can all be lessened with antimalarial drugs.
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are often used to reduce inflammation, and immunosuppressive drugs suppress the immune system so that it’s no longer attacking the body. Typically, immunosuppressive drugs are only used when there are big flare-ups that are damaging organs.
Disability Benefits for Lupus
Some people with this condition will need to apply for Social Security disability insurance, and there are some things that people who choose to do so will need to document to optimize their chances of getting a positive outcome from their claim.
While lupus is specifically listed in the SSA Blue Book of qualifying disabilities, there are a few criteria that anyone who is looking to apply should check to determine if they meet the qualifications. In order to qualify, the condition must be affecting at least two body systems, such as the kidneys or heart. The person must also be experiencing at least two of the following:
- Involuntary, unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue that results in difficulties thinking or low physical activity
- Feelings of illness that make it difficult to think or do physical activities
If the person isn’t experiencing all of the above criteria, they don’t meet the standards to receive benefits for the condition, but they can also apply based on the following requirements.
The person applying must be experiencing at least two of the above symptoms, and they must be meet at least one of the following criteria because of their lupus symptoms:
- Social functioning limitations
- Daily living and activities limitations
- Difficulties maintaining focus, which results in an inability to complete tasks
Taking care to submit the medical evidence is very important when you’re applying for disability benefits. For instance, an applicant will need to give medical evidence of several criteria for it to be recognized as this condition by the Social Security Administration.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Lupus, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.