Lupus and Disability

by Sam Malone

Lupus is a chronic disorder in which your immune system attacks the healthy organs, cells and tissues in your body. The inflammation caused by his condition affects various systems in your body, including your joints, brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, skin and blood cells. Some of the signs and symptoms you may experience as a result of lupus include:

  • Appearance of a rash and lesions
  • Fever and fatigue  
  • Chest pain
  • Joint stiffness, pain and swelling
  • Headaches
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Loss of memory
  • Shortness of breath

Many patients suffering from this condition often ask their healthcare providers “does lupus qualify for disability?” especially if the lupus-related symptoms make it hard for them to stay at their job.

The symptoms of lupus can widely vary from one individual to the next and not everyone suffers from disabilities after being diagnosed by the condition. Therefore, just being diagnosed by lupus does not necessarily entitle you to any disability benefits.

Because of the diversity of its symptoms, most patients only qualify for lupus disability benefits after the condition has progressed to the extent of causing significant impairment of the organ systems that are covered in Social Security Disability (SSD). Moreover, you are only said to have a lupus-related disability if the symptoms of this condition cause physical or mental impairments that limit your daily activities.

However, you first need to discuss your condition and the limitations it has caused with your employers. As per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer needs to make certain adjustments to your workplace for accommodating your health needs. These changes could include:

  • Finding a different position for you within the same organization
  • Adjusting your work schedule
  • Restructuring your duties

In case it is not possible for you to work even after making these changes, perhaps you need to think about filing for disability. Contact your social security office to find out about the eligibility criteria and programs that are best suited to your needs.

Making a Lupus Disability Claim

Applying for Social Security Disability and receiving it is not an easy task. Moreover, it could even take over a year for it to come through. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to justify all the disability payments it makes.

You have to ensure that you prove your disability and submit an application that is complete. While making your claim, do provide adequate information, which helps the reviewers understand the exact impact of the disease on your ability to work. Claims that are complete and well-documented usually provide the required justification for the payment and are more likely to get approved.

In case of a denial, there is an appeal process that you can follow. This gives you the opportunity to submit additional information which may prove that you are disabled.
To find an attorney who is specialized in disability law, get in touch with the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) on 1-800-431-2804.


  1. Schur PH, et al. Overview of the therapy and prognosis of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults.

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