How does work affect my disability claim if I have lupus?

This is a common question asked by individuals who are applying for disability with lupus, and/or are curious about Lupus disability requirements.

Work activity plays an important role in all Social Security Disability claim decisions. If you are still working, the limitations caused by your lupus must have caused you stop working or reduce your earnings. Social Security has a monthly earnings limit known as SGA. If you are working and earning over that limit, your disability claim will be denied at your initial disability application.

Social Security's definition of disability requires that you have a medically verifiable mental or physical impairment that has lasted twelve months, is expected to last twelve months, or result in death. AND, your disabling condition must prevent you from performing SGA. If you are over the SGA limit, your disability claim will be denied even if your condition is terminal.

Social Security uses a sequential evaluation process that involves an evaluation of your work history to establish whether you are able to perform the requirements of any of your past work or any other kind of work when your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite of the limitations caused by your lupus) is considered.

Disability examiners who decide claims use steps four and five of the sequential evaluation only if you were not able to meet or equal the criteria listed in the impairment listing for lupus. These steps are used to potentially approve your disability claim even if you were unable to meet the listing. If you are not able to do any past work or other type of work, you may be able to be approved with a medical vocational allowance.

Related: How does Social Security consider lupus as a disability?

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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