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Facts about Sjogren's Syndrome and Filing for Disability


How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits


 
1. Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that hinders the body's production of tears and saliva, causing dry eye and dry mouth. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks healthy tissue and cells by mistake. With Sjogren's syndrome, the body attacks the exocrine glands.

2. Sjogren's syndrome often develops in individuals who already have another autoimmune disorder, such as lupus.

3. Women develop Sjogren's syndrome much more often than men do; about nine times more often. Those over 40 are also more likely to have the condition. However, people of all ages and either gender do develop Sjogren's.

4. Of all rheumatic (affecting joints and soft tissues) autoimmune disorders, this is thought to be the second most common.

5. Dry eye causes discomfort in the eyes, including itching and burning as well as feeling like there is something in them. Dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow or speak and causes bad breath. Dry eye and dry mouth lead to the most common complications, which are tooth cavities, yeast infections, and vision problems.

6. Sjogren's syndrome may also cause the salivary glands located between the jaw and the ear to swell. Swollen and stiff joints, skin problems including rash or dry skin, vaginal dryness, persistent cough (dry, not productive), and fatigue may also occur with Sjogren's syndrome.

7. A variety of tests are used for Sjogren's syndrome. Doctors use blood tests to look for hints of Sjogren's syndrome in the levels of blood cells, antibodies and blood glucose, as well as looking for indicators of inflammation and liver or kidney problems.

8. Eye tests are used to measure tear production and look for damage. Saliva production is measured through a simple spit test (spitting into a tube every minute for 15 minutes), or by injection of a radioactive isotope that allows doctors to monitor the amount of saliva produced by the salivary gland.


Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.















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Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews