If you have been diagnosed with any type of immune disorder, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. An immune disorder occurs when the immune system is either underactive or overactive. An immune system that does not work as it should produces a variety of symptoms.
For some, the symptoms are so debilitating that they struggle to perform everyday activities, which includes going to work. Some of these symptoms include recurrent infections, extreme loss of function in an organ or entire body system, severe fatigue, and diffuse musculoskeletal pain.
The Social Security Administration places immune disorders into three categories: autoimmune disorders, immune deficiency disorders, and human immunodeficiency virus. Keep reading for more information about these three categories of immune disorders.
An autoimmune disease is a disorder in which the immune system is overactive. When this happens, it attacks the body by mistake, and in so doing, reduces bodily function.
For unknown reasons, autoimmune diseases are affecting more and more people. Currently, over 24 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. Some of these autoimmune diseases are rare and can take years to diagnose. Most autoimmune diseases do not have a cure, however it is possible to manage the symptoms.
Some of the autoimmune disorders that may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits include:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A type of lupus, this chronic inflammatory disease causes severe fatigue and joint pain.
- Systemic vasculitis. Characterized by inflammation of the vessels, this disease can be caused by adverse drug reactions or chronic infections.
- Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma). This chronic disease is characterized by a hardening and tightening of the connective tissues.
- Polymyositis and dermatomyositis. These related connective tissue disorders cause swelling and tenderness in the muscles.
- Inflammatory arthritis. This includes diseases characterized by joint inflammation, such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Lyme disease.
- Sjögren’s syndrome. This autoimmune disease attacks the body’s glands that make saliva and tears, which causes severe dry eyes and dry mouth.
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, each of these autoimmune disease has specific criteria that must be met.
Immune Deficiency Disorders (Excluding HIV Infection)
Immune deficiency disorders occur when the immune system doesn’t have enough antibodies to fight off infection and disease. Immune deficiency disorders are either primary or acquired. Primary immune deficiency disorders are hereditary and usually diagnosed during childhood.
Examples of primary immune deficiency disorders include:
- X-linked agammaglobulinemia
- Thymic hypoplasia (DiGeorge syndrome)
- Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
Acquired immune deficiency disorders can be caused by certain medications or when the spleen is removed from the body. Certain diseases, such as chickenpox, lupus, and tuberculosis can also result in an immune deficiency disorder.
Two of the most well-known acquired immune deficiency disorders are AIDS (caused by HIV), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
To qualify for Social Security Disability, those with immune deficiency disorders must be able to prove that they have an infection that does not respond to treatment, they are undergoing a stem cell transplant, or they have two severe symptoms that prevent them from working or performing daily activities.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is a virus that gets spread through body fluids and attacks the T cells in the body’s immune system. The attack on these cells makes people with HIV more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. Over time, the virus attacks so many of the immune system’s T cells that the body is no longer able to fight off infections.
According to the CDC, more than 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV. Like other immune disorders, HIV does not have a cure. HIV is treated by medications that cause negative side effects, such as:
- Nerve complications
The compromised immune system, along with side effects from treatment, can make it impossible for people with HIV to work. To qualify for social security benefits, the HIV must be in its advanced stages.
The HIV must also cause significant symptoms and complications. These complications might include frequent infections, brain swelling, severe weight loss, persistent diarrhea, or complications that have affected activities of daily living to a point where you are unable to work.
Social Security Benefits With an Immune Disorder
If you have an immune disorder that falls in any of the above categories and would like to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to gather certain pieces of information.
This information includes your medical history, laboratory findings, and test results that prove you have an immune disorder. These tests can include imaging, such as an X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, or a tissue biopsy report.
Applying for Social Security Disability is a complex process. If you live in the greater Chicago or northwest Indian area, contact Horn & Kelley P.C. Attorneys at Law to see how we can help. Our experienced social security attorneys can assist you with every step of the application process. We can help you gather evidence, provide legal briefs, and file documents with social security.