Various diseases can impede your ability to work and live a normal life. As a result, you may rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to help you manage your medical expenses. A Portland Disability attorney can help you compile the needed documents and assist in your filing process.
Systemic sclerosis, or scleroderma, is a qualifying impairment, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) – a body tasked with evaluating applications for disability benefits. Nonetheless, about 7 out of every 10 initial applications for disability benefits are denied.
To prove your disability status, you’ll need to meet the SSA’s strict requirements and provide evidence of the diagnosis and treatment of your condition. Let’s examine the condition and discuss the criteria you need to fulfill to get your disability claim approved.
Systemic sclerosis is a connective tissue disorder affecting the skin, internal organs, and other vital body systems. The condition affects your connective tissues, which provide strength and elasticity to the skin, organs, and other body parts. Symptoms generally vary from patient to patient.
As an autoimmune condition, it results in the hardening of the skin and connective tissue, including inflammation and distortion of these tissues. And since the disease affects multiple organs, it can cause a host of symptoms, such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Joint pain
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Involuntary weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Fever, and malaise
The condition can also make otherwise simple tasks difficult. Consequently, you might be unable to perform your duties effectively, especially due to the intensity of your symptoms. Plus, it can lead to grave complications like organ failure and death – in extreme cases.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits
To get approval for disability benefits based on systemic sclerosis, you’ll need to meet the SSA’s criteria, including having a qualified physician diagnose you with the condition.
You must also provide evidence of continuing treatment for the condition. Plus, the symptoms should be severe enough to prevent meaningful employment. Here’re questions to help you determine whether you can apply for disability benefits.
- Is your condition considered severe enough to meet the SSA’s definition of disability?
- Is the illness listed as a qualifying impairment under the Blue Book of Disabilities?
- Does your condition prevent you from doing your previous job?
- Can you adjust to a different job?
- What other resources can you use to alleviate the symptoms?
Depending on your answers, you may qualify for disability benefits. Also, medical evidence should prove either of the following elements:
- The condition has affected two of your body systems of organs – such as the respiratory and musculoskeletal systems. You should also have two accompanying symptoms – malaise, weight loss, fatigue, or fever.
- Hand or feet deformity – as shown by your need for crutches, a wheelchair, or a walker to move around. Your physician must provide detailed records of your diagnosis, treatment, and other relevant information. They should also document your inability to use your hands to perform ordinary tasks effectively.
- Raynaud’s Syndrome – A medical condition characterized by reduced blood flow to the extremities, causing pain, tingling, or a discolored appearance in affected areas. Evidence should demonstrate the severity and duration of your impairment. These may include gangrene – affecting two limbs. The examiner may also consider activities you can still perform.
- Recurring symptoms – You must provide evidence of frequent symptoms (such as episodes of pain, fatigue, or fever) limiting your ability to perform daily tasks at home or the workplace within a reasonable duration.
- Financial requirement – The disability benefits provided by the SSA are based on your financial need. Therefore, you must prove your inability to work and generate income due to the ailment and its symptoms. Thus, the disability must last for at least 12 months. You must also have accumulated enough work credits, having paid taxes to the SSA.
If you meet the laid-down criteria and have evidence to prove it, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Ideally, it’s advisable to rope in a disability attorney with experience in the field to help you determine your eligibility and options.
Their input can be instrumental in getting your application approved. For instance, in case of denial of your initial claim (as is often the case), they can appeal the decision and help you prove your disability status.
As we’ve established, systemic sclerosis is a debilitating medical condition with severe symptoms. Fortunately, with the right information and guidance, you can access disability benefits to manage your illness – provided your paperwork is in order. You can also explore other support systems like health insurance to help cope with the condition. Ultimately, the goal is to help you get the support you need to lead a healthy and productive life.