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Lupus can be debilitating, with chronic pain and fatigue that can make it difficult to work. If this sounds like your experience, you may be able to get disability for lupus.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) classifies lupus as an inflammatory disorder that can qualify for disability benefits. Before you can start receiving payments, you’ll need to prove that your lupus is severe enough to limit your ability to work.
We’ll explain when lupus makes you eligible for disability benefits, which benefits to apply for, and how to apply if you qualify.
Is lupus a disability?
Lupus is considered a disability when it meets certain criteria. Though lupus can be fatiguing no matter how many symptoms you experience, the SSA does require proof of specific, serious symptoms before your lupus can qualify for disability benefits.
How the SSA defines lupus
For the SSA, lupus falls under the much broader category of inflammatory disorders. To determine whether or not your lupus meets the SSA’s standards, they’ll first need proof that you experience (at least some of) the following symptoms:
Butterfly rash on the face
Difficulties in extreme cold
Memory loss or confusion
Unfortunately, experiencing any one of these symptoms may not be enough to qualify for disability. According to the SSA, when and how you experience these symptoms is just as important as the symptoms themselves.
Criteria for getting disability with lupus
The SSA uses the following criteria to determine whether or not someone’s lupus is severe enough to require disability:
Symptoms impact two or more organs/body systems, with: Moderately severe impacts to one of the organs/body systems.At least two of the following symptoms: severe fatigue, fever malaise, or involuntary weight loss.
Symptoms occur repeatedly, cause fatigue, fever malaise, and/or weight loss, and result in: Limited activities of daily living.Limited social functioning. Limited ability to complete tasks in a timely manner due to an inability to concentrate.
If you answer “yes” to some or all of the following questions, you likely qualify for benefits:
Do I experience ongoing inflammation that makes it hard to sit or stand for an extended period of time?
Does my fatigue make it hard for me to complete regular work activities?
Am I unable to concentrate while I’m at work?
Have I involuntarily lost weight because of my lupus?
How often do I experience episodes of fatigue, fever, or weight loss?
Have I experienced memory loss or confusion that has interfered with my work?
What types of lupus qualify for disability benefits?
There are four major types of lupus. Some types of lupus are more common than others, and they can all impact different body systems. Any of them can qualify for benefits if they make it hard for you to work, and will last at least a year.
The four types of lupus that commonly qualify are:
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): This is the most common type of lupus, and it can affect many organs including the skin, joints, and kidneys.
Lupus of the Skin: There are three types of lupus that affect the skin, each of which cause unique rashes and scarring. Chronic Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus, or DLE, is a common lupus of the skin that causes scaly areas on the face, neck, and scalp that can result in hair loss and scars.
Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus: Certain drugs can trigger this form of lupus. It causes inflammation around the joints and lungs.
Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus: This type of lupus impacts babies whose mothers have certain antibodies. These antibodies impact the heart system, causing symptoms like rash, liver problems, and low blood cell count at birth.
If your lupus meets the SSA’s criteria and you have medically-acceptable proof, you can apply for disability as soon as you’re ready.
If you’re still not sure whether or not you qualify, take our two-minute quiz to get some confirmation. It will tell you whether or not you qualify, and it’ll help us connect you with a lawyer who can increase your odds of approval. Our services are free, and you’ll only pay your lawyer if you win your case.
Even if your lupus doesn’t strictly meet the criteria, you can still apply for benefits. There’s no penalty for applying as long as you’re honest about your symptoms and how they impact your work life.
No matter how severe your lupus symptoms are, qualifying for disability is unfortunately rather difficult. Applying for the right program and working with an experienced lawyer can increase your odds of approval.
Keep in mind that only 20% of people win their disability claim on their first try. But don’t get discouraged! You can always appeal your case in front of a judge, at which point almost half of applicants like you get approved.
How much disability can you get for lupus?
The average disability check for lupus and other inflammatory disorders is $1,281.43, but your actual disability check depends on your unique situation. It’s important to note that the maximum monthly SSDI benefit for lupus in 2023 is $3,627, while the maximum under SSI is $914.
These maximums are the same regardless of your condition or its severity, and apply to all disabilities—not just lupus. But there are some factors that can impact your disability check, like your personal work history and other sources of income. In some cases, you may qualify for both SSDI and SSI.
Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.
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