Monday, November 19, 2012

Lyme Disease and Social Security Disability

Lyme Disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the country!  I was recently shocked to hear that Lyme cases by far outnumber those of AIDS, West Nile virus, swine and avian flu combined.
Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is a slow bureaucracy and it seems like it takes the agency an eternity to get the latest news.  Despite the prevalence of Lyme Disease in the U.S., the agency has failed to develop consistent guidelines or rulings to evaluate claims involving this condition.  For example, Lyme Disease has not been included in the SSA's Listing of Impairments.  Moreover, no rulings have been issued setting forth how cases involving this condition must be evaluated.  Lyme disease disability claims are currently evaluated under Listing 14.09D Inflammatory Arthritis.  Obviously, this is not a very precise listing for Lyme disease.
The lack of adequate guidelines makes it difficult for Social Security Claimants who suffer from Lyme Disease to win Social Security Disability Benefits.   However, persons who suffer from Chronic Lyme Disease should not be discouraged from applying for disability benefits.  Cases can still be won if the claimant is able to demonstrate that his or her condition meets the Social Security definition of disability.  As time goes by, it seems that judges and other examiners at the SSA are becoming more aware of the serious nature of Chronic Lyme Disease.  With the proper medical documentation, a competent Social Security Disability Lawyer should be able to show the serious limitations suffered by those who suffer from this disease, such as the cognitive impairments that occur when it is untreated for a long period of time. 
Finally, I would like to add that there is a group of advocates who work on behalf persons who suffere from Lyme Disease, who are petitioning the Social Security Administration to include Lyme Disease in the "Blue book" of Listings of Impairments.  Please visit the enclosed link and sign the petition: