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Sjogren's is an autoimmune disease known in the SSDI program

When a person suffers from an autoimmune disorder, the effects of the condition can be disabling. The Social Security Administration takes many forms of autoimmune disease seriously. The agency recognizes a number of autoimmune conditions in the list of impairments. In some cases, autoimmune diseases may be analyzed using the guidance for similar conditions.

It used to be that way for Sjogren’s syndrome, according to the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation. The group says that for many years people with Sjogren’s had their disability benefit applications evaluated under criteria for similar autoimmune disorders -- conditions such, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or multiple sclerosis. The agency created new guidance in 2008 in the list of impairments for Sjogren’s, which is logged under section 14.10.

The SSF says that April is recognized as Sjogren’s Awareness Month. Autoimmune disorders can adversely impact people in different ways, and symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. Sjogren’s is no different in that respect. Some people in the San Diego area may be aware that professional tennis player Venus Williams suffers from Sjogren’s. She made that information public in 2011. At 33, she is younger than many who are diagnosed with the condition. The SSF says that the average age is closer to the late 40s.

One of the issues that people with Sjogren’s may deal with is fatigue. Commentators note that Ms. Williams showed some signs of fatigue in a tournament earlier this month, although she played well overall and has been moving up in the rankings in recent months.

We all cannot play tennis like Williams. Similarly, managing an autoimmune disorder can vary from person to person. That is part of the reason the SSA uses standards listed in the Blue Book, or list of impairments, to evaluate SSDI claims.

The listings include complex guidance on the kinds of effects an individual needs to show to qualify for SSDI benefits. While many people may know their own symptoms, the rules and procedures include legal nuances that an SSDI lawyer can help a person in presenting the information and in navigating through SSDI rules.

Source: New York Times, “Resilient Venus Williams Falls at Family Circle,” Ben Rothenberg, April 3, 2014

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