Do You Have a Lupus Disability Claim?
If you have Lupus and it prevents you from performing the duties of your job and affects your daily life, you may qualify for Lupus disability benefits.
What Is Lupus?
Your immune system plays an important role in keeping your body healthy. A normally functioning immune system creates antibodies that attack bacteria, infections, and viruses. With Lupus, your immune system is tricked into producing auto-antibodies which cannot distinguish between bacteria and healthy tissue. These auto-antibodies destroy healthy tissue and can damage your joints, skin, blood vessels, and organs.
Types of Lupus
The most common type is systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, which affects the skin, joints, internal organs, and the nervous system.
Cutaneous Lupus affects only the skin and causes rashes and lesions. Subtypes of cutaneous lupus are acute, subacute, and chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Sun exposure and medication can trigger lupus in certain types of the disorder.
Scientists don't know exactly what causes lupus and there's no known cure. While anyone can develop the disorder, it is more common among women, especially African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women.
Symptoms of Lupus
There are a variety of lupus symptoms depending on the area of the body that's affected. It can cause physical, mental, and emotional symptoms including:
- Joint and muscle pain and/or swelling
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
- Arthritic joints
- Numbness or pain in fingers and toes
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Red rashes, often on the face
- Sensitivity to light that causes/aggravates a rash
- Hair loss
- Changes in hair and skin pigment
- Fevers over 100 degrees with no known cause
- Blood clots seizures
- Chest pain
- Heart attack or stroke
The American College of Rheumatology issues guidelines listing eleven criteria to determine if a person has Lupus. To be diagnosed with Lupus, a person must meet at least four of the eleven criteria. The list includes:
- Malar rash: butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose
- Discoid rash: raised red patches
- Photosensitivity: a reaction to sunlight causing a rash
- Mouth or nose ulcers: usually painless
- Nonerosive arthritis: inflammation in two or more joints
- Cardio-pulmonary involvement: inflammation of the lining of the heart or lungs
- Neurologic disorder: seizures and/or psychosis
- Kidney disorder: increased levels of protein or clumps of red cells in urine
- Blood disorder: anemia, low white cells, or low platelet count
- Immunological disorder: immune system attacking healthy cells
- Antinuclear antibodies (ANA): a positive test for the presence of ANA which is not drug-induced
Lupus can be hard to diagnose because of the many symptoms can be attributed to causes other than Lupus. There is no single test for lupus and it develops over a long period that can be months or even years.
Treatment for Lupus
There is no cure for Lupus, but changes in lifestyle and medication can help you manage the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory corticosteroids, anti-malarial immunosuppressives, and anticoagulant medications may be used to treat lupus. Getting plenty of sleep, resting during the day, staying out of the sun, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and no smoking all improve symptoms of lupus.
Filing for Long-Term Disability Benefits for Lupus Disability
Because Lupus can be difficult to diagnose and symptoms can appear and then disappear, the documentation you provide to the insurance company is especially important. Effective medical evidence shows:
- Evidence of recurrent episodes of lupus
- One or more major organ or body system is affected
- Symptoms are at least at a moderate level: fever, fatigue, involuntary weight loss, rashes, joint pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, etc.
- Limitations to performing daily tasks
It is also important that you demonstrate how lupus keeps you from working. In addition to listing symptoms, state how each symptom prevents you from performing your work. For example:
- Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks in a timely manner
- Inability to stand or walk for a lengthy period of time
- Weakness which makes it difficult to grip or manipulate objects
- Inability to understand, remember, and follow directions
- Significant personality changes
- Anxiety or severe depression
The insurance company's claims examiner will study your documentation to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC) in relation to physical, mental, and sensory abilities. For example, people with Lupus may experience extreme fatigue, weakness in arms or hands, and swelling and pain in their joints. Each of these symptoms can make it difficult for an individual to work.
We Can Help You Prepare a Strong Case for Your Lupus Disability Claim
At CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC, we can review your medical documentation, make recommendations, and help you with your Lupus disability claim. Contact us today to learn more.