According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 322,000 and one million people in the United States suffer from some form of Lupus. Ninety per cent of those diagnosed with Lupus are women. Although this disease impacts each person differently, it greatly alters the lives of those it affects. Persons suffering more severe forms of this disease may qualify for disability benefits; but as with any disability claim, there are specific requirements.
Lupus is a disease which affects the body's autoimmune system, essentially turning it against itself. Anti-bodies, which generally are produced to fight harmful or foreign substances, actually fight healthy tissue in Lupus patients. Several organs can become affected, including the kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, as well as blood vessels and skin. Symptoms vary, depending upon the severity of the condition, but can include fever, arthritis, hair loss, butterfly rash, chest pain, mouth sores, easily bruising, memory loss and depression.
Social Security Benefits
Disability benefits are provided only through the federal Social Security Disability Insurance program. The program was designed to provide financial compensation for those who are unable to work due to illness or injury, and cannot perform normal activities for 12 continuous months or longer. A diagnosis of Lupus does not automatically entitle a person to disability benefits.
Qualifications for Benefits
Persons diagnosed with Lupus need to consult with their physician to discuss the severity and limitations of their condition. According to Social Security, at least moderately severe involvement of one or more organs must occur, as well as two other significant symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, continuous fever or significant weight loss. These symptoms must be proven to greatly limit social function, daily activity or the ability to perform simple tasks.
According to Social Security, persons applying for disability benefits are allowed to work as long as earnings do not exceed £559 a month. Individuals must show that they are unable to continue fulfilling their current work duties or activities, or they are unable to find alternative work which is compatible with their diagnosis.
Often those who apply for disability are denied benefits the first time, in which case an appeal can be made. The Lupus Foundation recommends that those who believe that they were wrongfully denied should seek professional counsel from an attorney specialising in disability law.