Your recent diagnosis of Sjogren's Syndrome may have you scratching your head. What is this strange condition that is difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to diagnose? Your West Virginia primary care physician may have sent you from one specialist to another, and each one ran tests and asked questions until finally someone put the pieces together.
By the time you got your diagnosis, the symptoms, the pain, fatigue and constant infections may have been almost more than you could bear. Many of your routine tasks are more difficult to perform and leave you exhausted. The side effects of your medication interfere with your daily life. However, does Sjogren's Syndrome qualify for disability benefits if you are unable to work?
You may realize that you have probably been living with the effects of Sjogren's for years. Do you remember when you started carrying a bottle of eyedrops and using them all day long? Do you remember how long you have felt like you couldn't drink enough water because of the dryness in your mouth? These are the first signs of Sjogren's Syndrome, one of the most common autoimmune disorders. For many people, the condition does not progress much beyond this, but more serious cases include the following:
- Pain and inflammation in your joints
- Infections in your mouth and other dental issues
- Infections in your eyes that may permanently affect your vision
- Painful rashes on your legs or arms
- Inflammation of your blood vessels called vasculitis
- Inflammation in your liver, kidneys or lungs
- Neurological complications, including weakness or numbness in your hands or feet
As you can see, inflammation is the key to Sjogren's syndrome. The condition is an autoimmune disease, and you are at risk of experiencing damage to your organs if your case is severe. Because Sjogren's involves the inflammation of tissues and cells, you may also be at risk of certain forms of lymphoma.
Reaching out for help
Whether your Sjogren's occurs by itself or in conjunction with other autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, you may find that your symptoms prevent you from maintaining gainful employment. If this is the case, you will want to investigate the possibility of obtaining disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.
While the SSA lists Sjogren's Syndrome as a qualifying condition, you will need to produce documentation from all those doctor visits, specialists' opinions, prescriptions and treatment plans to improve your chances of obtaining the financial assistance you need. Working with an experienced attorney is another way to raise the possibility of meeting your goals.