For some sufferers of Sjogren’s syndrome, symptoms are mild and easily treated. For others, however, the symptoms can be severe and disabling. It may be difficult to see, swallow, eat, or speak. It may also be difficult or impossible to carry out your work activities and to support your family. Further, the symptoms may progress to the point that they impact vital organs including the kidneys, liver, or lungs. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration recognizes the potential severity of this condition and allows people who suffer from this condition to recover disability benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Social Security Disability Listing for Sjogren’s Syndrome
In order to qualify for disability benefits pursuant to the Social Security Administration’s listing for Sjogren’s syndrome, you must demonstrate that the syndrome does the following:
- Affects at least two of your bodily organs.
- Causes at least two of the following symptoms: frequent fatigue causing low activity, frequent fever, malaise, or weight loss.
In the alternative, if you cannot demonstrate the above, you may show that your Sjogren’s syndrome was diagnosed by your physician and that at least two of the above listed symptoms are repeatedly present. In addition, you must also demonstrate that you have at least one of the following severe limitations:
- Limited ability to perform activities of daily living such as eating or bathing.
- Limited ability to maintain basic social functioning.
- Limited ability to finish tasks quickly since the Sjogren’s syndrome creates a lack of focus or persistence.
Even if you cannot meet these requirements, you may be qualify for Social Security disability in other ways.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Under Other Listings
Individuals suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome often suffer from other immune system disorders as well. If these additional impairments make it impossible for you to function, you may qualify for disability under the other listings. Similarly, depending on which parts of the body are experiencing complications from Sjogren’s, you may qualify for disability benefits under the listings for those parts of the body. Below are four ways to qualify for disability benefits based on listings other than Sjogren’s syndrome:
- Under the specific listing for inflammatory (rheumatoid) arthritis.
- Under the specific listing for systemic lupus erythematosus.
- If you develop kidney or liver problems, which are common complications of Sjorgen’s syndrome that have their own specific listing with the Social Security Administration.
- If you experienced peripheral neuropathy as a complication of Sjorgen’s syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy is a tingling and numbing of the hands and feet and this condition is listed in the Social Security Administration’s listing of impairments.
If you do not qualify pursuing to the Listing of Impairments, you may still qualify for Social Security disability if you are unable to work.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Due to Functional Limitations
Those who are diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome but do not meet the criteria outlined by the Social Security Administration can still qualify if they can demonstrate substantial functional limitations caused by the syndrome. The Social Security Administration will evaluate your residual functional capacity. This test determines what kind of work you may still be able to perform despite the Sjogren’s syndrome diagnosis. These limitations may be created by the Sjogren’s syndrome itself, or by limitations caused by other, related impairments. If the Social Security Administration decides that your limitations are severe, you may qualify for disability benefits.
If you are interested in learning more about Social Security disability benefits for autoimmune disorders, we encourage you to view our free guide, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know. This guide will help get you started on the path to benefits that you deserve.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.