What Immune System Disorders Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
The immune system is responsible for protecting us from disease, but sometimes it fails to work properly, and this can lead to disability. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is caused when an HIV infection damages immune cells and suppresses the immune system. On the other end of the spectrum, abnormal immune activity that causes inflammation or the build-up of antibodies is responsible for autoimmune diseases like Grave’s disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Hashimoto’s disease, and even psoriasis, as well as connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. Social Security treats disorders of the immune system seriously, and has disability listings that lay out the criteria for qualifying for disability for most of these diseases. For the other immune system-related medical conditions, Social Security looks at how the symptoms of the disease are limiting your abilities and activities.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Based on an Immune System Disorder
Determining whether or not you qualify for disability benefits based on an immune system disorder will depend primarily on the specific diagnosis and condition that is hindering your ability to maintain employment. As a general rule, the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates disability benefit applications predicated on an immune system disorder by referring to the standards set forth under Listing 14.00 of the “Bluebook.” The SSA’s Blue Book summarizes the different types of physical and mental impairments that are generally accepted as disabling. SSA relies on the Blue Book to determine whether an applicant’s disability will prevent them from working.
Listing 14.00 details an array of immune system disorders that are generally deemed eligible for disability benefits. Here is a sampling of some of the immune disorders referenced in Listing 14.00 (please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all eligible immune disorders):
- Connective Tissue Disease
- Inflammatory Arthritis
If you are 50 years of age or older, the Medical Vocational Guidelines (also known as “Grids”) may be helpful in assessing your ability to maintain employment. For an application who is 50 years of age or older whose symptoms have adversely impacted their ability to walk, stand and carry, may be deemed disabled based on Grids guidelines.
Overview of the Immune System Disorders Listed in the SSA’s Bluebook
The information below is a general overview of the immune system disorders referenced in Listing 14.00 of SSA’s Bluebook:
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Section 14.02 of the SSA’s Bluebook ) – Lupus is considered to an incurable, chronic inflammatory disorder that can impact multiple parts of your body. If you were diagnosed with lupus and it impacts more than one of your body parts and results in at least two serious symptoms, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
- Systemic Vasculitis (Section 14.03 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – If you were diagnosed with systemic vasculitis and it negatively impacts more than one body part and results in at least two serious symptoms, then you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. You may also qualify for benefits if you are struggling with repeated manifestations of serious symptoms that limit your activities.
- Systemic Sclerosis (Section 14.04 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – Systemic sclerosis is a serious, incurable immune disorder that can result in the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissue. There are at least four specific ways in which someone with scleroderma could be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The specific way in which you could be eligible depends mainly on your unique condition.
- Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis (Section 14.05 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – Both polymyositis and dermatomyositis impact the muscles of the human body. If this immune disorder impacts your ability to walk, swallow, breathe, or hinders your motor skills, then you could be eligible for disability benefits.
- Undifferentiated and Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (Section 14.06 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – If you are diagnosed with undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease, you may be eligible for disability benefits if this disorder impacts more than one body part and result in at least two serious symptoms. Additionally, you could qualify for disability benefits if you have repeated flare ups and marked symptoms that result in limited activities.
- Immune Deficiency Disorders (Section 14.07 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – Section 14.07 is effectively a catchall of various immune disorders that include infections resistant to treatment. The disorders identified in Section 14.07 include meningitis, pneumonia, septic arthritis, sepsis, endocarditis, and sinusitis.
- Inflammatory Arthritis (Section 14.09 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – If you have inflammatory arthritis, you may qualify for disability benefits when certain joints necessary to walk or to perform gross motor or fine motor functions are impacted by the disorder.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome (Section 14.10 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – Sjogren’s Syndrome impacts the cells that produce saliva and tears. If more than one organ or body system is impacted by this disorder and you have at least two serious symptoms, you may qualify for benefits. In addition, you could be eligible for disability benefits if you have serious symptoms that result in limited activities.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (Section 14.11 of the SSA’s Bluebook) – If you are diagnosed with HIV and one of the other specific resulting conditions or complications that are described in Section 14.11, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Some of the identified conditions include multicentric (not localized or unicentric) Castleman disease, primary central nervous system lymphoma, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma, etc.
What To Do If You Do Not Meet the Standards Set Forth in Listing 14.00 or Grids
Being diagnosed with an immune disorder is not enough to be deemed disabled or ultimately eligible for benefits from the SSA. To have a viable application for disability benefits, the main issues that SSA will assess include:
- The severity of your autoimmune disorder; and
- Whether your immune disorder is preventing you from working due to pain, loss of function, fatigue, or side effects from your medications.
Have an Immune System Disorder and Need Help Applying for Disability Benefits? Take Action
If you are struggling with an immune system disorder that has left you disabled to the point that you cannot work, it is important to be proactive and determine if you qualify for disability benefits. One of the best ways to determine if you can secure these valuable benefits is by filling out a free evaluation form on this page. Once you submit the form, we will immediately get to work matching you with an experienced and knowledgeable disability benefits attorney to discuss your options.