Hi my name is Andrew Kinney and I’m an attorney at Hoglund law offices. I practice social security disability law for a living. I want to talk to you today about autoimmune diseases and how social security looks at them. In my experience, people with autoimmune diseases, for instance Lupis or HIV, or someone who has received a transplant already perhaps after a few years, there are problems with those who have immune disorders. They can be quite complicated, and quite frankly as an attorney in reviewing records, these are some of the more difficult cases I see.
The usual pattern that I see is someone is starting to treat, feels tired, talks to a primary care doctor and may be then referred to an endocrinologist or some specialists. There is some blood work done. There might be some negative lab work in some ways, but if you know you don’t feel well, and you are not sure you have immune issues talk to your doctor, but if you have an autoimmune problem and is confirmed usually we see laboratory tests that show that and people may see for instance a specialist, and in the particular kinds of problems you can have with again Lupis or HIV/AIDS there are unique problems that you will suffer from, and there are chronic problems.
What social security looks at is whether you have problems that will keep you out of work for a year and that would also keep you out of full time work. You may or may not be able to work part time. The trouble with autoimmune diseases is that they may wax and wane, but for the most part some of the symptoms you have, particularly fatigue, may not be easy to verify, but make sure you talk to your doctor about these symptoms. That is important, in fact, I tell my clients what’s most important is getting better, working with your doctors. As far as social security is concerned, they are looking at records, looking at your reports of problems, even subjective reports. They are evaluating the diagnoses doctors have, looking at lab results. They may see that there is a positive AIDS test but the real question social security looks at beyond what doctors are necessarily doing is, are you bad enough to social securities definition to be disabled. Social security has listings that define autoimmune disorders, and they have certain criteria that if you meet them you will be filed as disabled ideally at the first level. If you are denied, certainly appeal. But you do not need to be by definition, disabled. You also can be disabled because you have waxing and waning of autoimmune system issues, and for you, also know that if you know you can’t work, appeal. Do not give up.
For Lupis in particular, the waxing and waning elements of this and also the diagnoses, those are key components of making sure social security know how you are doing. Make sure to treat with doctors, make sure to report to doctors what is going on as I mentioned, make sure to take the medications the doctors request you take. If you have problems with medications certainly talk to your doctor. But what social security does not approve cases on is if someone who may have a legitimate diagnosis if they’re not caring for themselves with what’s available to them. Make sure to check that you are not a part of the problem, I guess, to state it bluntly.
With HIV, with AIDS becoming symptomatic, one of the things we see, and you would well know if you have a friend or relative or if you are suffering from this, is you can have chronic infections. A unique thing that social security looks at, is that you can have a chronic infection that in most people is not a big deal, a sinus infection is something that is easily remediable by antibiotics, but as an attorney when I argue these cases, a chronic sinusitis for someone with an immune deficiency for instance with HIV, that’s another problem that may by itself or other infections, those infections may be what’s called that listing level, and it may be bad enough to be approved. Know that if you have issues with an autoimmune disorder, and you are treating for them, and you don’t feel well, and you are talking to your doctors, and you can’t work, that may be when you need to apply for benefits.
If we can help you consider whether you need to apply for benefits now or soon or if we can help you appeal for benefits, at least up to a hearing, where you would be in front of a federal judge, feel free to call us now. We are at 1-800-850-7867, also feel free to go to our website. We have a medical library. We do our best to discuss how social security reviews your health, and that is Hoglundlaw.com. Thank you.