Elderly woman suffering from pain weakness and tingling in wrist.

Autoimmune Disorders/RA

What are autoimmune disorders?

An autoimmune disorder is a dysfunction of your immune system that can be caused by a number of issues, including problems with antibody production or an immune deficiency. Autoimmune disorders can be difficult for your doctors to treat because they can cause unpredictable problems with multiple body systems at the same time.

What are symptoms of an autoimmune disorder?

The most universal symptoms of autoimmune disorders are severe fatigue, fever, malaise, diffuse musculoskeletal pain, and involuntary weight loss. Such immune system disorders may also result in recurrent infections or inflammation and dysfunction of the body’s own tissues. Generally, we need to gather your medical history, reports of physical examinations, laboratory findings, and, if appropriate, radiology and biopsy reports to prove both the existence and the functional impact of your autoimmune disorder.

Types of autoimmune disorders that can qualify someone for disability benefits

There are a wide range of autoimmune problems that can qualify a person for disability benefits. Inflammatory arthritis, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), is one of the more frequent autoimmune conditions we see.

RA is an autoimmune disease wherein your own immune system attacks the lining of your joints. Clinically, inflammation of major peripheral joints may cause difficulties with walking or the performance of fine or gross finger movements. RA can be particularly destructive when combined with “regular” osteoarthritis because RA tends to attack areas already weakened by osteoarthritis.

What does the Social Security Administration look at for RA cases?

If the RA is in your hips, knees or ankle joints, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine its impact on your ability to walk and if you need a walker, crutches or canes to walk. If the RA is in your shoulders, elbows, wrists or hands, SSA will focus on your ability to use your hands or if you need help to dress or take care of your personal hygiene, and if you need help to sort and handle papers and files. The mere fact that you have RA is not determinative; the severity of the functional limitations arising from the impairment is what is critical. That is also the case with other autoimmune conditions.

Other autoimmune conditions we regularly see our clients present with include:

  • lupus
  • scleroderma
  • fibromyalgia
  • myositis
  • undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease
  • immune deficiency disorders (such as HIV and common variable immunodeficiency)
  • inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s)
  • multiple sclerosis, psoriatic arthritis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • type 1 diabetes
  • vasculitis
  • thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s)
  • and myasthenia gravis

Please do not panic if your exact condition is not on this list of examples. We have seen it all after working on thousands of cases.

How can a lawyer help?

We at Balin Law have a soft spot for autoimmune cases in particular. Several members of the firm live with autoimmune disease and are all too familiar with the pain and fatigue caused by immune system dysfunction. Because the disability caused by autoimmune disease are very often invisible to the outside world, these cases require special care and knowledge. We have an excellent track record of winning autoimmune disorder at all levels of review.

At Balin Law we help our clients sort through the complexity of SSA’s requirements in this area to focus on the functional limitations which limit your ability to work on a continuous and sustained basis. Your age, education and past work history are all part of the equation that we will examine with you so that you can win your claim as early as possible.