Federal Assistance

Disability Benefits & Lupus: Options & Processes

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For #LupusWarriors who cannot work due to severe symptoms, there are certain government benefits for people with a qualifying disability.

Continue reading to learn how disability works and how to file a claim.

What Is ‘Disability’?

The American Disabilities Act was established in 1990 to provide those with disabilities—mental or physical—similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.


Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program of the United States government. Managed by the Social Security Administration, it is designed to provide supplemental income to people who are restricted by either a mental or physical disability from work.

SSD can be given on either a temporary or permanent basis. The disability prohibiting employment needs to also last for at least one year. #LupusWarriors whose symptoms make working impossible can apply for SSDI through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA also includes information for building your application.

How to Apply for Disability

Before making an appointment and trip to the nearest SSA office, make sure doctors or members of your lupus treatment team should note any limitations or restrictions resulting from the medical condition. Thorough documentation is key to really explaining how the manifestations of lupus interfere with daily activity.


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A number of individuals claim that consulting with a disability attorney can have a major impact on approval. Attorneys may also increase the odds of having better monthly benefits.

Generally, there is a test an applicant needs to complete along with the detailed letters and medical records that support the diagnosis, symptoms, treatment results, and side effects. Records should indicate all the specific symptoms along with corresponding severity levels.

The claims process is very scrupulous with the average claim taking at least five months. A claim can be denied twice, but there is an opportunity for an appeals process. The final step is a hearing before an administrative law judge to rule on the case.


Centers for Independent Living

Centers for Independent Living (CIL’s) were established in the 1960’s along with the independent living movement. These organizations are federally mandated to be in every state to serve as centers of resources. Activities within these organizations include wheelchair repair, personal care attendant services, support groups, referral services, social services, and more.

The purpose of Centers for Independent Living are to help individuals with disabilities lead more independent lives. If a #LupusWarrior feels as if they are severely affected by their specific manifestations of lupus, this type of organization might be worth a phone call.


The Takeaway

Filing for disability is a major decision and takes a long time. #LupusWarriors shouldn’t be discouraged if they are denied disability status. Under the ADA, employers must make workplace accommodations for employees in reasonable ways. Talk to your medical team, peers, family, and perhaps a disability advocacy organization to see if filing for disability is the best choice.

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