April Is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month

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Allsup explains importance of treating physician for Social Security disability benefits

If your condition or treatments make it impossible to work, you should determine your eligibility and apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible.

The cause is unknown, but researchers believe that sarcoidosis, an immune system disorder that can cause permanent lung damage, may be the result of inflammation or genetics. Despite this risk, a diagnosis of sarcoidosis does not automatically mean you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of SSDI representation. Various organizations including Allsup are observing National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month in April to bring attention to this condition, which can affect multiple systems in the body.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), sarcoidosis affects people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds and, usually, the disease develops between the ages of 20 and 50. Sarcoidosis can affect any organ in the body including the skin, liver, lymph glands, spleen, eyes, nervous system, brain, muscles, bones, heart and kidneys. Tests to determine sarcoidosis include examinations to assess organ damage.

Sarcoidosis develops from inflammation that does not go away and is caused by immune system cells that have clustered together, according to the NHLBI. These clusters form lumps called granulomas in various organs in the body. People with a family history of sarcoidosis are at a higher risk for the disease. According to the American Lung Association, 90 percent of sarcoidosis cases affect the lungs, which is called pulmonary sarcoidosis and can interfere with breathing and result in lasting damage.

The most common cause of mortality stemming from sarcoidosis is pulmonary fibrosis, which alters the structure and function of the lung and can make breathing difficult, according to the American Lung Association. “The sarcoidosis may affect the lungs, leaving the claimant extremely short of breath and even oxygen dependent,” said Ed Swierczek, Allsup senior claimant representative. “If your condition or treatments make it impossible to work, you should determine your eligibility and apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible.”

Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a specific medical listing for sarcoidosis, it is evaluated under the body system that the disease affects. “Individuals applying for SSDI should report their symptoms—shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and pain—to a doctor,” Swierczek said. “They should tell the doctor how the disease affects their functioning and daily activities as well as discuss limitations imposed by the symptoms.”

It is imperative when seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to have supportive treating physicians, Swierczek said. “Claimants can help themselves by speaking with their doctors to determine if they believe that they can work or not,” he said. “An SSA ruling specifically states that the treating physician’s opinion is to be given controlling weight as long as the medical evidence provided with this opinion supports the opinion.”

When someone seeks Social Security disability benefits, it’s required that the condition be severe enough to prevent work. “If the sarcoidosis itself is not severe enough to meet an SSA medical listing in the affected body system, the symptoms experienced may be so severe as to preclude the claimant from engaging in substantial gainful activity, depending upon age, education and past relevant work,” Swierczek explained. “Some people suffering from sarcoidosis may be so fatigued they can’t even do sedentary work on a full-time basis.”

To determine if you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI eligibility evaluation or for answers to Social Security Disability Insurance questions.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to http://www.Allsup.com or visit Allsup on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Allsupinc.

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