Progressive systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) is a chronic disorder of the body’s connective tissues. Classified as an autoimmune rheumatic disease, scleroderma is not contagious or malignant but can be serious enough to prevent an affected person from maintaining employment. Progressive systemic sclerosis causes calcium deposits to accumulate on connective tissues, esophagus swelling and blood vessel constriction in the feet and hands. Skin on the fingers also thickens considerably, which prevents many people with moderate to severe sclerosis from performing work-related tasks. In addition scleroderma can also damage organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.
Does the Social Security Administration Award Scleroderma Disability Benefits?
If applicants can prove they have been clinically diagnosed with progressive systemic sclerosis and submit medical documentation showing scleroderma is seriously disabling them, they will probably qualify for Social Security disability.
In the SSA’s Blue Book of diseases and disorders eligible for SSI or SSDI, scleroderma is categorized as a disorder of the immune system. To be approved for scleroderma disability, applicants must establish two or more areas of their body has been severely impacted. They must also show through medical reports that they suffer from at least two of these symptoms:
- Severe fatigue
- Chronic fever
- Malaise (general weakness both physically and mentally)
- Involuntary weight loss
If an applicant doesn’t meet Blue Book criteria for scleroderma disability, they may still meet requirements for disability benefits through the SSA’s residual functioning capacity program.
What is Residual Functioning Capacity?
Some people with progressive systemic sclerosis may suffer from Reynaud’s syndrome, which causes severe numbness in the hands. In most cases, Reynaud’s syndrome numbness prevents you from grasping objects or performing manual labor. In addition, scleroderma patients may be unable to sit or stand in one position for an hour or more without experiencing discomfort and weakness. A few scleroderma treatments involve chemotherapy medications that cause severe nausea, weight loss and fatigue. This can make it impossible to hold a job for very long.
If you apply for Social Security disability but your scleroderma symptoms do not automatically qualify you for benefits, you could still be approved under the SSA’s residual functional capacity (RFC) guidelines. However, proper and adequate documentation needs submitted to the SSA, along with a detailed RFC completed by a doctor or specialist, to receive approval for benefits under RFC rules.
If you plan on filing for scleroderma disability or have been denied approval, contact the Law Offices of Daniel Berger today to schedule a consultation with an experienced disability attorney.