"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.
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.
- For SSDI, you must have work credits from your previous employment, and must also not earn more than the SGA, or substantial gainful activity, threshold in monthly earnings from employment. You can learn more about SSDI here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi
- For SSI, you must have very limited income and other financial resources with which to support yourself, as this is a need-based program. You can learn more about SSI here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/content/about-ssi
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 (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/) 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
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.