Social Security Disability Benefits & Lupus

Posted February 28, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Lupus is a chronic disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. It is considered an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system — the body system that usually fights infections — attacks healthy tissue instead. Lupus most commonly affects your skin, joints, and internal organs. Because it can affect many parts of the body, it can cause a variety of different symptoms, such as: fatigue, headaches, joint pain, fever, edema, hair loss, and abnormal blood clotting.

No one knows what causes lupus, but lupus and other autoimmune diseases do run in families. Experts also think it may develop in response to certain hormones (like estrogen) or environmental triggers. An environmental trigger is something outside the body that can bring on symptoms of lupus — or make them worse. Lupus is not contagious.

There are two ways an individual can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits for lupus. An individual can either (1) meet the requirements of a listing set out in Social Security’s list of qualifying impairments, or (2) show that he or she is unable to work.

Lupus is one of the diseases specifically notated in Social Security’s listing of impairments. To qualify as disabled under this listing, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The lupus must affect at least two body systems or organs, (such as the kidneys and the lungs, or the heart and the brain), with at least one involved to a moderate level of severity; and
  • The lupus must cause at least two of the following symptoms: severe fatigue, fever, malaise (feelings of physical discomfort or illness resulting in low physical or mental activity), and/or involuntary weight loss.

OR

  • Repeated symptoms of lupus, with at least two of the symptoms above, resulting in one of the following limitations at the marked level:
    • Limitations of activities of daily living
    • Limitation in maintaining social functioning
    • Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to lack of focus or ability to work quickly.

You can also qualify for Social Security Disability for lupus if you can prove that you are unable to work due to the health problems caused by lupus. For example, an individual with lupus might have the following physical limitations: fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, and abnormal heart rhythms. These limitations can make it difficult to stand or walk for a lengthy period of time, which rules out many jobs. Furthermore, those with lupus may suffer personality changes, including anxiety and depression, and may have difficulty concentrating or have increased forgetfulness. Social Security will take these limitations into account when deciding if the applicant can do even simple, routine tasks that don’t require skill.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Learn more about lupus: https://www.lupus.org/resources/what-is-lupus

View the Listing for lupus: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/14.00-Immune-Adult.htm#14_02

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

“Blending” Disability Payments is Possible

Posted January 31, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Many people who are applying for or receiving Socials Security Disability benefits wonder if there are any other forms of assistance that they can receive at the same time. Disability payments from private sources, such as private pensions or insurance benefits, will not affect your Social Security disability benefits. Workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits, however, may reduce what you receive from Social Security. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. These benefits may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers, or by insurance companies on behalf of employers.

Public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefits are those paid from a federal, state or local government for disabling medical conditions that are not job-related. Examples of these are civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.  A few states, including New York and California, offer temporary disability benefits alongside their unemployment insurance programs. You can receive state disability insurance payments at the same time as SSDI, but your SSDI may be “offset” by these short-term disability payments.

Veterans Administration benefits don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

 

Doctors May Hesitate to Document Treatment “Failure”

Posted January 24, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Patients seek out doctors to provide treatment and cures, and physicians practice medicine hoping to successfully diagnose and treat people with illnesses. Contrary to those goals, however, the Social Security law requires patients and their doctors to prove that they are not doing well.

For patients, the need for financial assistance through Social Security thrusts legal and insurance issues into the doctor’s examination rooms. It asks that the doctor-patient relationship conform to bureaucratic standards. Doctors would rather be focused on signs that their treatment plan is providing relief, rather than proving disability and failure of treatment.

Many treating providers “chart for strength,” documenting each small improvement that a patient makes. This can be devastating to a Social Security claim if the chart does not also document continuing limitations. Unfortunately, this forces both the treating provider and the patient to focus on the negative aspects of the illness.  Social Security largely relies on documented functional impairments, along with its Listing of Impairment.

If the claimant cannot work then the doctor needs to document that opinion. If the doctor feels the patient can work, or is malingering, this must be explained to the patient so that the focus can switch to treatment and the return to work. Eliminating financial stress by obtaining benefits can often allow patients to redirect their energies to recovery. Anxiety about bills and finances can sometimes exacerbate illnesses.

These benefit programs provide minimal cash assistance and more importantly, access to the health care system though Medicare and Medicaid. This continued medical care may provide opportunity for recovery and eventual return to work.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®