Social Security Disability Blog adds Information for Lupus Applicants

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Lupus is one of a number of physical and mental conditions for which exacerbation and remission are key characteristics. Unfortunately, these characteristics can have the effect of hindering a social security disability or SSI disability claim. And, in many instances, the nature of the condition can present a hurdle to being approved for disability benefits.

Tim Moore, a former social security disability examiner who now publishes My Social Security Disability Blog, has added a page that provides provides information for claimants who are filing on the basis of lupus, a condition for which there is no cure and which may cause severe damage to the skin, joints, heart, liver, and lungs.

Although the social security administration recognizes lupus as a disability, people suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus often have difficulty winning social security disability (SSD) or SSI disability benefits. Part of the problem is that lupus tends to imitate other illnesses, and, therefore, can be difficult to diagnose. The condition also tends to follow a pattern of activity and remission, and its symptoms may appear less severe to a disability examiner than they actually are. If a claimant's most recent medical records indicate that their lupus symptoms are in remission at the time a disability examiner reviews their case, the examiner may not realize the extent to which the condition affects their ability to engage in work activity.

People with lupus are likely to find that they must appeal their case to an administrative law judge (ALJ) before they can be approved for disability benefits. In too many cases, the examiner working for the state disability determination services (DDS) agency fails to grasp the cyclical nature of lupus symptoms, choosing to focus instead on the claimants most recent medical records, which may or may not indicate that lupus is in an active phase.

At a disability hearing, however, claimants have the opportunity to explain exactly how their symptoms affect their daily living activities, and limits their ability to work. They can also present a residual functional capacity (RFC) form from their treating physician, which will spell out exactly what they can and can't do in light of their condition.

By contrast, the disability determination process at the initial claim and reconsideration levels does not contain a built-in procedural step in which claimants may communicate directly with their disability examiner (though claimants may certainly contact the examiner working on their case and, by the same token, a disability examiner may choose to contact the claimant about matters relating to the case). It has been argued that this degree of separation reduces a claimant and their medical problems to appearing as little more than a case file and a pile of medical records, and may serve to influence negative outcomes for disability claims, particularly those in which the nature of a medical condition (such as one that exacerbates and remisses, like lupus) may require a higher level of discernment.

To view the posting regarding approval for disability benefits on the basis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, visit the following page: Lupus and Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD AND SSI).

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Timothy Moore

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