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Disability Benefits from SSA

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Qualifications and How to Qualify

Working and Disability

Disability Awards and Notices

Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys

Social Security List of Conditions

What Social Security considers disabling

Medical Evidence and Disability

Filing for Disability Benefits

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Facts about Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease and Filing for Disability




 
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.



Facts about the condition

1. Undifferentiated, or mixed, connective tissue disease combines symptoms of lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis, and sometimes also rheumatoid arthritis, making it an overlap disease. Mixed connective tissue disease typically first presents like lupus, but the diagnosis is updated as new symptoms begin to occur.

2. Just like the conditions it mimics, mild connective tissue disease is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body's immune system accidentally attacks healthy tissue.

3. Symptoms are nonspecific and can be attributed to a lot of different conditions. They primarily include malaise, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, swelling of joints, hands and fingers, and Reynaud's disease (abnormal blood flow in fingers and toes).

4. Medical professionals and researchers do not know what causes mixed connective tissue disease or what increases the risk of developing the condition. It is evident than women are more likely than men to have mixed connective tissue disease.

5. Women with mixed connective tissue disease may experience complications with pregnancy. The research is conflicting, but some studies show that women with the condition may experience flares up of symptoms during pregnancy. The primary health concern is that their babies are at an increased risk for low birth weight.

6. One of the biggest health complications for people with mixed connective tissue disease is high blood pressure in the lungs, called pulmonary hypertension. This causes trouble breathing and is the leading cause of death for those with mixed connective tissue disease. Heart disease, particularly enlargement and inflammation, is also a risk for those with this condition.

7. Treatment of the condition is typically with the use of corticosteroids, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen), and immunosuppressant drugs such as those used for lupus. Corticosteroid use can cause additional health concerns, such as bone loss, weakened muscles, and increased infections.

8. Those with mixed connective tissue disease may want to try alternative therapies such as acupuncture, fish oil supplements, hypnosis and relaxation techniques. These have relatively few and minor side effects but may prove helpful at managing the condition.


Qualifying 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 and treatment notes that 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 also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.



Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits 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. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

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?

There are several reasons but here are just two:

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

Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.

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. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.















Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions





























Related Body System Impairments:

Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI with Crohn's Disease
Facts about Crohn's Disease and Filing for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI and Filing based on Lupus
Polychondritis and Filing for Disability
Bursitis and Filing for Disability
Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease and Filing for Disability
Costochondritis and Filing for Disability
Ankylosing Spondylitis and Filing for Disability
Polymyositis and Filing for Disability
Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Filing for Disability
Behcet's disease and Filing for Disability
Lupus, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits



Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI


These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it