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Immune disorders may qualify for Social Security Disability

When most people think of disability, the image of someone with a physical mobility impairment most often comes to mind. However, the term disability actually refers a much wider range of conditions and impairments, especially in the context of Social Security Disability. Although there are many people who receive SSD benefits because of disabilities that affect their ability to move, walk or perform other basic actions, there are many others who receive Social Security Disability for illness that affects their ability to work.

One of the categories of illnesses that is recognized by the Social Security Disability program is immune system disorders. In the SSA's Disability Evaluation, there is an entire category of recognized impairments relating to the immune system and disorders. The specific immune system disorders included in this listing are lupus, vasculitis, sclerosis, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease, immune deficiency disorders not including HIV, HIV infection, inflammatory arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome.

In general, the disorders evaluated under this listing cause some kind of dysfunction in one or more areas of the immune system. Immune system dysfunctions can include certain deficiencies, impaired cell immunities, problems with antibody production, impaired phagocytosis or some other type of antibody or cellular deficiency. Commonly seen problems and symptoms of immune system disorders include recurrent infections, inflammation or problems with a body's own tissues. In some severe cases, an immune system disorder can result in a complete loss of function of an organ or body system. Limitations and symptoms relevant to the disability analysis can include fever and malaise, severe fatigue, widespread pain, and/or involuntary weight loss.

When a person is applying for SSD benefits based on a disability resulting from a disorder associated with the immune system, the SSA will need extensive information in order to determine whether the person's condition and resulting disability qualifies him or her for benefits. First and foremost, an applicant must provide a detailed medical history. Other reports that are required include physical exams and laboratory findings, as well as imaging or tissue biopsy reports in some cases.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security: 14.011 Immune System Disorders-Adult," accessed on Feb. 3, 2015

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