Autoimmune Disorders and Getting Disability Benefits

An autoimmune disorder is a condition whereby your immune system attacks your body by mistake. Typically, the immune system guards against germs such as bacteria and viruses, which it destroys using various cells in the body. The immune system can usually tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. For someone suffering from an autoimmune disorder, the immune system mistakes part of their body, such as their skin, to be a foreign thing that therefore must be destroyed.

What are the most Common Autoimmune Disorders?

Rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system in your body produces antibodies that attach to the linings of joints. Once lodged there, the immune system cells then start attacking joints, causing swelling, inflammation, and pain.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). Individuals who have lupus often develop autoimmune antibodies that attach to tissues all over the body. The most common areas or organs affected in those with lupus are joints, nerves, blood cells, and kidneys.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The immune system of your body attacks the lining of both intestines, leading to episodes of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent or frequent bowel movements, abdominal pain, high fever, and weight loss.

Multiple sclerosis (MS). The immune system here attacks nerve cells, leading to symptoms that often include pain, weakness, blindness, poor coordination, and muscle spasms.

Inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis (IA) is inflammation of the joints in your body caused by an overactive immune system. The disease affects several joints throughout the body at the same time.

Can I Get Disability Benefits Based on Autoimmune Disorder?

The unfortunate short answer here is “it depends,” as is often the case with these types of questions. This is because when seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the SSA examiner reviewing your application first determines whether you qualify to receive the benefits or not by consulting its “Blue Book,” an official guidebook of recognized disabilities and the criteria for each one.

But determining that the disorder fits the criteria to apply for benefits does not mean that if you apply, you will automatically get disability benefits. Rather, you will need the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer as the application process is long and complex.

How Do I Know If I Qualify for Disability Benefits Based on Autoimmune Disorder?

If your autoimmune disorder is listed in the Blue Book, then the next question to be answered is whether you qualify for benefits using established criteria that considers many factors, including your current income.

If you are engaged in income-producing activity that generates income of a certain level, you are not considered to be disabled for the purposes of benefits. If you go past this hurdle and it is determined that your income is not high enough to disqualify you, the next factor to be determined is the severity of your impairment or disability. Just proving that you have been diagnosed with an impairment is not good enough to establish eligibility for disability benefits. More must be done, and an experienced disability lawyer can help you with that.