What You Need to Know About Applying for Disability

Applying for Disability With Lupus

What You Need to Know About Applying for DisabilityLupus is a disabling and debilitating condition. Although many who suffer from lupus are able to lead perfectly normal lives, others find that it changes everything. Depending on how lupus affects you and your line of work, you may find yourself traveling the long and tedious road of applying for disability.

Chances are you have probably seen the attorney commercials on television, promising their stellar skills in getting your disability approved. The implication of these television ads is that benefit denial happens to many people the first time around.

Luckily, that was not my case. I did not need an attorney to assist me; however, my doctor was an integral part of the process.

Once I was determined disabled by my doctor, I had to apply to four different entities. Your particular situation may include one, all, or more of these. Fortunately, the information needed by the various agencies is standard across the board, which helps significantly.

Government – Social Security Disability

Virtually everyone who becomes disabled applies for government disability benefits and you may qualify for two different programs. Navigating the online process is relatively easy and it saves you substantial time!

To apply, visit the Social Security Disability website. Programs you may qualify for include:

Social Security Disability Insurance

This program pays benefits if you have earned enough ‘credits’ through your work history (the last 10 years) and pay Social Security taxes. You can find this information on your Social Security statement.


If you do not know where this document is, you can request one. I encourage you to sign up for an account with My Social Security to keep track of your information.

Even if you have not earned enough credits, apply anyway because you may still qualify for Medicare. Although disabled by definition according to the SSA, Medicare was the only benefit I qualified for, and it does not take effect until later this year (two years after my disability date).

Supplemental Security Income

This program pays benefits based on financial need regardless of credits earned or Social Security taxes paid. However, your income needs to be significantly low to qualify for this benefit.

Just because your doctor determines that you are disabled does not guarantee that the government will agree. This is probably why those disability attorneys exist.

The Social Security Administration has a five-step criteria process to determine disability status. If you meet the first three conditions, then approval should be automatic.

Even if you do not qualify for benefits, the disability status is important to have on hand, especially if additional disability sources are involved. The five questions considered are as follows:

  1. Are you working? If you are earn a specified amount per month through working, you will not qualify for disability. If you are not working, they move to the next step.
  2. Is your condition severe? According to the SSA, your condition is severe if it interferes with basic work-related activities. If that is the case, they move to the next step.
  3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? The Immune System Disorders lists lupus and related conditions are disabilities. To automatically be considered disabled, your condition needs to either:
    • Involve two or more body systems or organs; one of which must have a moderate level of severity AND have at least two typical symptoms.
    • Have repeated manifestations with two or more symptoms that limit activities of daily living, the ability to maintain social functions, or completing tasks in a timely manner.
  4. Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is not to the severity listed, they move on to step four. In this case, your disability must interfere with your ability to do your job. If so, they move on to step five.
  5. Can you do any other type of work? Age, education, past work experience, and transferrable skills considered. Approval of your claim results if they determine that you cannot adjust to a different work environment.

Before submitting your application online, review the website for specific information so that you are prepared. Identifying information will be requested (birth certificate, W-2s).

You will also want to have evidence of your medical condition (medical records, doctors’ reports, test results); however, if you do not possess all of the pertinent information, apply anyway. They will contact your doctor(s) if they need further information or documentation.

Next page: employment, insurance, and additional waivers.  

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