If you have Lyme disease and cannot work, you likely hope to receive monthly Social Security disability (SSD) payments. According to the CDC, initial symptoms of this infection include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If you don’t get fast treatment, this infection can spread to joints, your heart, and your nervous system. The result can be many symptoms that make both working and completing the tasks of daily life very challenging.
What to Know Before You Apply for Disability Benefits
One of the first things that will likely happen when you apply for disability payments via the Social Security Administration (SSA) is you’ll get frustrated. That’s because the SSA doesn’t list Lyme disease among its approved conditions. Others who have been down this road do generally find a way get SSD benefits. However, it is usually for a different condition whose root cause is Lyme disease – not for the Lyme disease itself.
The good news is, it is possible for Lyme disease sufferers to get monthly disability benefits. There are specific steps you can take and tests you can ask your healthcare providers for that can help improve your chances.
IMPORTANT: One of the most important things you can do to get approved for disability is to carefully track and record your symptoms. Your symptoms are likely similar to those of conditions the SSA already approves as qualifying disabilities. The second most important thing you can do is work with a lawyer who specializes in disability claims.
Bonus Tip: Listing multiple health issues on your SSD application makes you more likely to get disability benefits. In fact, SSA data shows that’s true for 62% of approved claimants in recent years!
Are Your Lyme Disease Symptoms Similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The Blue Book lists illnesses and conditions that the SSA considers severe enough to prevent someone from working. It outlines the specific medical criteria the agency uses for determining if you can receive disability benefits. Fortunately, the criteria are freely available for you to read over. The closest thing to a listing for Lyme in the SSA Blue Book is likely rheumatoid arthritis.
This website has helpful anecdotes on what tests and symptoms helped people like you qualify as disabled because they cannot work. Other Lyme disease sufferers have learned which symptoms or other conditions are caused by the Lyme, then they gather evidence for those.
IMPORTANT: Because the medical tests that can help prove your condition are different for everyone, talk to your doctor to see what types of specialists and tests are appropriate for your situation and symptoms.
To summarize the bad news: It can be difficult to get approved for disability payments with a Lyme disease diagnosis alone. Lyme disease, which comes from tick bites, affects people differently. It also has so many associated symptoms that even getting a diagnosis can take years.
Your Doctor Can Help You Get Medical Evidence, Tests and Associated Diagnoses That Support Your Disability Claim
Here are some associated diagnoses you might pursue with your doctor:
- Cognitive problems. If you have problems with memory, focus or concentration, many people report that neuropsychological testing was helpful for their disability case. Brain scans in combination with neuro-psych testing can be useful. Types of brain scans sometimes helpful in Lyme cases include: QEEG, PET scans and SPECT scans. Some claimants report functional MRIs can also be helpful.
- Mental health issues. Mental health can be very important in Lyme disability claims. That’s because many people with Lyme have psychiatric conditions that qualify for SSD benefits. If you experience mental health symptoms, document them.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Many people with Lyme also experience chronic fatigue syndrome. Although Social Security uses the term “chronic fatigue syndrome,” many doctors and patients use the term “Myalgic Encephalomyelitis” or “ME.”
- Rheumatoid arthritis/fibromyalgia. Some Lyme disease sufferers who have pain in many parts of their bodies are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. They may also have other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. If you have fibro pain or symptoms, seek an official assessment from a rheumatologist. That doctor’s report may prove helpful in supporting your SSD claim.
According to this Lyme sufferer’s blog, people with Lyme disease ultimately get approved for a whole array of conditions, symptoms, or related disorders. These include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Neurological problems
- Chronic headaches/migraines
- Chronic pain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Bipolar disorder
- Vision problems
- Memory loss
- Cognitive difficulties
Expert SSD Claim Assistance for Lyme Disease Sufferers
To speak with a Social Security attorney in your state who is familiar with the SSA Blue Book, please click the button below now. It costs you nothing to speak with an expert about your Lyme disease symptoms and how they affect your ability to work full-time.
You deserve to find out if your Social Security disability claim has merit. If it does, an attorney charges you nothing in legal fees until after the SSA awards you benefits. And if you win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.