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Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as Lupus, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues.  This autoimmune form of arthritis affects approximately 1 person in every 1000 people and it is 9 times more common in women than in men. Interestingly it is more common in  African Americans than whites.

Lupus can affect various organs and tissues throughout the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.  In some cases it can be severe enough to damage the major organs significantly. With good medical care, however, Lupus does not usually reach this severe stage.  Lupus is typically treated withimmunosuppressive drugs such as Methotrexate or antimalarial drugs such as Plaquenil.  The diagnosis of Lupus can be difficult to make, with many patients going years with symptoms before the Lupus is diagnosed.

Diagnosis by a Rheumatologist, a medical doctor who specializes in arthritis diseases is, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the “gold standard”.   A Lupus diagnosis by a non-rheumatologist may be viewed sceptically by the social security administration.

So can a Lupus sufferer qualify for social security disability benefits?  Absolutely.  Like all social security disability claims, however, the issue is the severity of the symptoms, and the impact of those symptoms on the ability to work.   Some of the most salient issues in a Lupus social security disability case include:

  • Frequency and duration of so-called disease symptom “flares”.  It has been my experience that social security clients often report differing flare symtoms, but they generally include profound fatigue, joint pain, cognitive difficulties, and sleeplessness.
  • The appearance of the so-called “malar rash” on the face in response to sun, heat or fluorescent lighting can effect the social security disability claimant’s “Residual Functional Capacity” by precluding some outdoor and office setting jobs.
  • Chronic infections can be exacerbated by the immunosuppressive medications typically prescribed by rheumatologists and therefore may limit job in public domains.

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