Systemic lupus erythematosus, often called lupus or SLE, is a form of autoimmune disease. That means the immune system is attacking the body as if it were foreign matter. The result is damage to tissues and cells throughout the body, which can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
Lupus is incurable, and there is no specific test for SLE. Because the spectrum of symptoms is so broad, doctors often have trouble diagnosing lupus, and many patients may experience years of discomfort before other alternative diseases have been ruled out. In addition, lupus typically follows a pattern where periods of acute symptoms—called flare-ups or flares—alternate with remission periods. Thus, a patient with lupus may appear nearly symptom-free during the period between flares.
How lupus causes disability
Lupus can attack cells in virtually any part of the body. The most significant damage caused by lupus can lead to significant functional incapacity during flare episodes. Some of the most typical disabling effects of lupus include these:
- Blood abnormalities – Lupus is associated with reduced numbers of blood cells, especially red blood cells (which transport oxygen to all tissues), platelets (which are responsible for clotting after injuries), and white blood cells (which ward off infection).
- Muscle and bone damage – According to the Lupus Foundation of America, over 90 percent of all people with the disease will experience muscle and joint pain at some point. This pain can be incapacitating. Scientific studies have also linked SLE with an increased risk of bone fractures and osteoarticular tuberculosis.
- Neurological damage – When lupus attacks the nervous system, the patient may develop mental disorders of varying severity, including anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, seizures, and even psychosis.
- Respiratory system damage – Inflammation of the lungs due to lupus can damage the respiratory system in multiple ways, including spontaneous blot clots in the lungs, bleeding in the lungs, accumulating fluid between the lungs and walls of the chest cavity, and congestive heart failure due to pulmonary hypertension.
Under Social Security Administration rules, persons with lupus can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if lupus has caused damage to at least two body systems or organs, and at least one of those has moderate to severe damage. Alternatively, a patient’s application for SSDI benefits can be approved if he demonstrates that the total effect of his illness causes such significant limitations on daily activities, social functioning, or the ability to concentrate, proving that holding down a job is impossible.
Getting the SSDI benefits that your case merits
Because lupus is a chronic disease, many persons with this illness have faced difficulties getting their SSDI applications approved. During a remission period, the patient may seem symptom-free to a Social Security case examiner. Most people applying for disability benefits for the first time fail to get a benefit award.
At Schmidt Kramer, our skilled Harrisburg Social Security lawyers have an excellent record in securing benefits for clients. We can assist you in your first application or help appeal an unfavorable early decision. However, prompt action is vitally important; there is only a narrow time frame to request reconsideration of a rejected claim.
If you have lupus or any other disabling condition and a strong work history, we can help get you the SSDI benefits you have earned. Call our Pennsylvania disability lawyers today at 717.888.8888 or (717) 888-8888 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review. As always, we will charge you no legal fees unless we can get you benefits.