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Monday, June 10, 2013

Social Security with Lyme Disease/Related Disability

One of the biggest questions many Lyme sufferers or people with coinfections have is what to do now that they can't work, or haven't been working. I have not been able to answer much of these questions, or give further information. Recently someone emailed be an article to help give insight on what help is out there, and how to go about receiving that help, as posted below:

"Applying for Disability Benefits with Lyme Disease
Although Lyme disease can be quite debilitating, its affects on each patient are different. Additionally, because the symptoms of the condition can be quite pronounced at times, and go into relatively long periods of remission, it can be challenging to receive qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for this condition.
Though difficult, it is possible to prove disability and get the benefits you need, if your Lyme disease is so severe that it prevents gainful employment for a period of 12 months or more or is expected to do so, given the extent and type of symptoms you experience.
SSA Disability Programs
The SSA has two disability programs for which you can potentially qualify with Lyme disease. The first, SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is a program designed for disabled workers. SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is the second program, and it is a need-based benefits program designed to provide benefits to disabled workers and/or their dependents.
Basic Eligibility
To be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI, you must meet the basic medical requirements for proving disability. These include:
  • Having a medical condition that can be substantiated through standard medical means, meaning it must be proven with significant medical documentation and that documentation must satisfy the SSA’s evidence requirements.

  • Suffering from a disability that has been, or is reasonably expected to be, present for at least 12 months or which is terminal.

  • Your condition must prevent you from maintaining gainful employment in any job for which you would otherwise be qualified.
The previously listed basic eligibility requirements satisfy the medical portion of eligibility for SSDI and SSI; however, each program also has technical eligibility requirements.

Qualifying with Lyme Disease
To meet the SSA’s medical eligibility requirements, you must fully document the affects of your Lyme disease on your ability to work and your everyday abilities to complete tasks in your personal life as well. While the SSA has no dedicated listing for the condition under which you can qualify, there are multiple listings in the SSA’s Blue Book ( that may be applicable to your claim. This is because Lyme disease can have severe affects on multiple body systems.
To qualify with this condition, you must:
·         match a listed condition in terms of severity level
·         document that your residual functional capacity (RFC) is so limited that you qualify under a medical vocational allowance (MVA)
The following conditions may be ones that your Lyme disease application can match, provided you have the appropriate medical documentation to satisfy the SSA’s evidence requirements:
·         Musculoskeletal System – Section 1.00
·         Cardiovascular System – Section 4.00
·         Mental Disorders – Section 12.00
·         Inflammatory Arthritis – Section 14.09
It is also important to note that the SSA will take all of your symptoms under consideration when determining if you meet the eligibility requirements for receiving Social Security Disability (SSD). In other words, if your symptoms fall under more than one of these listings, the SSA will consider the medical evidence you provide in comparison to multiple listings.
Starting Your Application and Getting Help with Your Claim
If you are ready to begin your application, you have two options for getting started:
  • visit the SSA’s website, to start your application immediately,
  • contact your local SSA office, to schedule an in person interview during which your application will be completed.
While it is possible to receive disability benefits for Lyme disease, it can take a long time for your application to be approved. You may have to go through more than just one round of reviews before the SSA finds you eligible, and you may also have to appear at an appeal hearing, if your claim is denied more than once.
Seeking the help of a Social Security Disability advocate or attorney before filing your claim is advisable with Lyme disease. However, an advocate or lawyer can assist you at any stage in the application and review processes as well, and can potentially increase your chances of being approved for benefits."

Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help

Hopefully that helped somewhat, though it is a mindful to read. I put this out there as a reference for many people starting to navigate the hoops of this illness and survive even when the going has gotten rough. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hearing Symptoms

I've had Lyme for 5.5 years now, and the majority of the time fought the same symptoms. The first few years was one cluster of symptoms, from joint aches and pains to stomach problems to dizziness, while the past few years have been another set of symptoms on top of those more commonly known. I've had coughing, muscle spasms, weakness, swelling/low circulation, heart palpitations, pain, double vision, even the more severe neurological symptoms of speech problems and walking difficulties. Never has it affected my ears until recently. I was on a treatment that included IV Vancomycin, known for its possible serious side effect of hearing loss, for a short amount of time. After the two months or so I went back to the Lyme Specialist complaining of ringing in my ears and short term hearing loss from one ear randomly. He stopped the Vanco immediately, worried about the long term implications. Since then, the past two months, I still have had hearing problems much the same but more frequently. Most of my symptoms have been blamed on Bartonella, and I'm not sure anymore if this is another Lyme/Bartonella Symptom or if there is some permanent damage from the treatment. Medications affet every person differently. What could be a side effect for one person could simply not occur in another person. Just the same, what could help one person could harm someone else, because the body is different. Where Vanco is one of the more strong medications on the market through IV for a treatment option, and was covered by insurance, it was a good thing to test out. My ear problems could very well be coincidentally new symptoms as my condition worsened over the past few months. In time I'll know for sure, if the diseases go into remission and the symptoms diminish.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

IV Treatment Paused

I have become increasingly worse the entire time I have been on IV Clindamycin through my port. The side effects of acne, stomach problems, and increased yeast were too much to be worth the worsening symptoms over the month of May. When I saw my Lyme Doctor recently he suggested we take a break from IV, leave the port in and de access it, and wait the summer trying oral medications to see what happens. So I can now swim, shower, go to my Civil Air Patrol encampment, all without the complications of the IV treatment. Hopefully I only get better, after starting the oral Tindamax, Zithromax, Minocin, and A Bart I have already been herxing for the first 3 days and trying to just push through. I start a 4 day work week next week, head to prom with a friend, as the temperature climbs and I'm trying to keep myself upright. On the plus side, I have an amazing connection with a horse I'm working with, a few solid friends, short shifts throughout the week, and many big dreams and goals for the summer. I am considering starting my own business in women's self defense weapons, continuing my horse related career, starting night courses in the fall to get my diploma in January, and meting people everyday through Civil Air Patrol (which I am now a Tech Sgt in), and working sales at Gunstock. Now just to wait and see where life leads me.