Lyme disease, especially in its advanced stages, can cause a number of impairments that prevent you from working and earning a living. If you are struggling to make ends meet because your Lyme disease is causing a disability, you may be eligible for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. These monthly disability benefits can help you make ends meet despite your inability to work.
At Berger and Green, we have a team of disability lawyers ready to fight for the full benefits you deserve. We know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for when it evaluates your SSDI or SSI claim. We can help you complete your application to the organization’s strict standards. We can also navigate the appeals process for you if you already received a denial for your initial claim for benefits. Call our office today at 412-661-1400 to schedule a time to talk to one of our attorneys about getting Social Security Disability (SSD) for Lyme disease in Pittsburgh.
How Can I Prove My Disability to the SSA?
The SSA only approves people who are unable to work for at least one year for its disability programs. The organization publishes a book of impairment listings that outline the qualifications you must meet based on your diagnosis. However, there is no impairment listing specifically for Lyme disease. Instead, you will need to consider your most severe symptoms and see if your condition meets any other listed criteria.
Some of the impairments listings that might apply if you suffer from advanced Lyme disease symptoms include:
- Section 1.00 – Musculoskeletal System, if you suffer from mobility limitations or problems using your hands or arms;
- Section 4.00 – Cardiovascular System, if you are experiencing heart-related impairments;
- Section 12.00 – Mental Disorders covers a number of Lyme disease symptoms, including cognitive and emotional impairments; and
- Section 14.09 – Inflammatory Arthritis, if your Lyme disease causes arthritis of the weight-bearing joints.
We can help you evaluate which of these impairment listings might apply to your case based on your individual health situation and how Lyme disease affects your body. Even if we cannot find an applicable impairment listing, you may still be able to qualify for the benefits you need. We will help you understand how.
If I Do Not Meet an Impairment Listing, Can I Qualify Based on My Inability to Work?
Many people who suffer disabilities because of Lyme disease need to rely on their residual functional capacity (RFC) to qualify for benefits. Your RFC is a statement of your ability to work. It describes the tasks you can do, how often, and for how long. Your disability examiner will assign your RFC based on their review of your medical records, imaging scans, test results, and other documentation. Occasionally, they may request you see an independent doctor to help document your condition.
If the disability examiner determines you cannot work, you will likely qualify for SSD benefits.
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What Type of Medical Documentation Do I Need to Qualify?
When we help you complete your disability application, we include contact information for all of your doctors and other medical practitioners who know about your condition. The disability examiner who reviews your claim relies on your medical records, information from these doctors, and other documentation to determine if you meet an impairment listing and satisfy the SSA’s definition of disabled.
This is one of the most important parts of your application. It is pivotal to prove you suffer from a qualifying impairment. The examiner will want to see your test results, imaging scans, notes about your treatment and outcomes, and documentation of your limitations. To ensure your file is complete, you should discuss your intent to apply for benefits with your doctor as early as possible in the process.
What Are the Technical Qualifications for SSD Benefits?
In addition to proving you suffer from a qualifying disability, you also need to meet a number of technical qualifications to receive SSDI or SSI benefits. These vary based on the program for which you are applying.
SSDI requires you to have the required number of work credits based on your past earnings and your age.
Because SSI is a need-based program, the technical qualifications are more stringent. You must meet strict income limits of $735 per individual or $1,103 per couple each month in 2017. You must also have less than $2,000 in assets, or less than $3,000 for a couple. There are, however, no work credit requirements for this program. This means you may qualify without ever having worked.
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What Can I Do If the SSA Denied My Disability Claim?
If you already received a denial letter for your SSD claim, you should give us a call right away so we can begin your appeal. We need to act quickly before time runs out and you have to start the application process again. We can request an appeal hearing with an administrative law judge and help you fight to overturn the denial.
Before your hearing, we will look into your application and determine why the SSA denied your claim. Then, we can collect evidence to answer any issues or prove your disability. In most cases, we can get qualifying clients approved for benefits during this step in the appeals process. If not, we will evaluate whether we should continue fighting for the benefits you deserve.
How Can I Discuss My Claim With a Pittsburgh Disability Lawyer?
The Berger and Green legal team understands what disability examiners are looking for when they evaluate applications for SSD benefits. We can help you prepare your application and file a claim for SSDI, SSI, or both. We can also help you dispute a denial, if the SSA did not approve your initial application for benefits.