Some of most medically complex disability cases involve autoimmune disorders such as lupus, dermatomyositis, vasculitis, or scleroderma. Autoimmune problems can also cause an inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis can also result from autoimmune processes.
If you live with an autoimmune condition, then you know how significant of an effect these disorder can have on daily life. You may also have questions about your eligibility for disability benefits. Here are some answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive about autoimmune diseases:
1. “I Have Been Diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disorder. Can I Get Disability for That?”
Sorry to disappoint you with the response you might expect from a lawyer, but the answer is: It depends. First, it is important to note that you cannot be considered disabled when you are successfully sustaining work with earnings above the “substantial gainful activity” level. Working even a minimum wage job on a full-time basis will generally put someone above this level. If your earnings do not rise to this level, the severity of your impairments will be considered. Proof of a diagnosis of an impairment is rarely enough for someone to prove disability. With the vast majority of impairments, someone is required to show that his or her disorders are severe enough to qualify for disability. The bottom line is that is often best to discuss your individual situation with a legal professional. You can contact Keller & Keller to do so.
2. “When I Tell People about My Autoimmune Disorder, They Usually Tell Me They’ve Never Heard of It. How Can I Be Confident That the Person Deciding My Case Will Understand It?”
Many times a case involving an autoimmune disorder can be denied at the earliest stages because of this lack of understanding. Our attorneys can work with you and your doctors to prepare your case for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge who has specialized training in evaluating disability cases. At the hearing, your attorney can utilize knowledge developed from working on other autoimmune cases to make sure that your cases is properly evaluated. The judge may find that it is appropriate to consult a medical expert in particularly complex cases or when multiple impairments are involved. When this happens, judges tend to rely heavily on what these medical experts have to say, so it is important to have a skilled attorney on hand to cross-examine this medical expert in the event he or she offers unfavorable testimony. Otherwise, the busy medical expert may miss something important and provide the judge with unreliable information which could cause your case to be denied.
3. “I Experience ‘Flares’ of My Autoimmune Disorder, and It Can Wax and Wane. I Have Some Good Days, but I Am Miserable and Incapacitated on Others. How Does This Affect My Case?”
A condition that can wax and wane can result in a case that is prone to an erroneous determination. For example, an adjudicator reviewing your case at the earliest stage may rely too heavily on the report of an examination performed by a doctor hired by Social Security. This examination may have taken place on one of your “good” days, and this kind of “snapshot” may not fully reflect the extent of your impairments. We prepare your case to present the full picture to the judge who conducts your hearing. It is important to keep in mind that the Social Security Administration should evaluate your ability to work on a “regular and continuing” basis. If your condition would cause you to miss work frequently, this can be a basis for a disability finding.
4. “Someone Told Me I’m Too Young to Have a Good Chance of Being Approved for Disability. Is This True?”
As someone ages, the possibility of him or her becoming disabled generally increases. This is because many of the common impairments that cause people to become disabled are degenerative, meaning they get worse as people as age. Autoimmune disorders are different. They can strike people at any age and progress rapidly to the point at which someone becomes unable to work. Often—especially at the earliest stages—adjudicators do not appreciate this difference and can be inclined to look less favorably on a claim filed by a younger person. A Keller & Keller attorney can present your case in a way designed to make the judge appreciate the difference between a degenerative and an autoimmune condition and understand why you should be considered disabled.
5. “My Autoimmune Disorder Has Left Me Unable to Work. What Should I Do?”
The most important thing to do is to consult with your doctors. If necessary, get a second opinion. If you’re still not happy, get a third opinion. These disorders can be so complex that it may be a struggle to find a medical professional who can help you and with whom you feel comfortable. Finding that person may enable you to get the treatment that enables you to return to work. If not, seeing these doctors will document the severity of your condition so it can be considered in your disability case.
We’ve Been Helping People Just Like You for Over 75 Years
Keller & Keller is one of Indiana’s most recognized Social Security disability law firms. We have the experience necessary to make sure you get the benefits that you need to support yourself, and we represent individuals throughout the entire state. We offer every Indiana resident our Zero Fee Guarantee, which means you’ll never pay for a consultation and we only get paid if we’re able to secure disability benefits for you. If you want to learn more about whether you may qualify for disability benefits, we urge you to call us today at 1-800-253-5537