Applying for Social Security Benefits
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Scleroderma
By: Ram Meyyappan September 30, 2013
Social Security Disability Help
Scleroderma is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a condition that can potentially qualify for benefits.
However, you must prove that you medically, as well as financially, qualify for disability benefit assistance in order to be approved.
Medical Qualification Requirements
To qualify medically for disability benefits with scleroderma, you must meet the Blue Book listing, which details the severity level of the condition the SSA considers limiting enough to prevent employment.
Specifically, this listing requires you satisfy one of the following:
Two or more body organs or systems are affected by your scleroderma, including:
- One which is affected at a moderate to severe level
- The consistent presence of autoimmune symptoms, including two of the following fever, weakness, unintentional weight loss, malaise, and severe fatigue
- Deformity or irreversible damage resulting in one of the following:
- Your toes on one or both feet, which severely limits your ability to walk
- The fingers on both hands, which severely limits your ability to perform normal activities
- One of both of your legs, which severely limits your ability to walk
- Atrophy in both your arms, which severely limits your ability to perform normal activities.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon, with gangrene in two extremities and ischemia and ulcerations of your fingers and tows
- Ongoing periods of pronounced symptoms, including the systemic affects of scleroderma listing in section one, with severe limitations imposed on your ability to:
- Complete activities of daily living
- Function socially
- Complete tasks and activities in a reasonable amount of time
For more information on qualifying with Scleroderma, visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/scleroderma-and-social-security-disability
The SSA’s Disability Programs
There are two programs for which you may qualify for SSD benefits with scleroderma:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Both require that you meet the listing for the condition in order to prove the level of severity necessary for scleroderma to cause disability. Both also require that you meet the technical or financial requirements for receiving benefits.
- For SSDI, you must have sufficient work history, with built up work credits over the last 10 years of your employment. Learn more here: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/
- For SSI, there are no work credit requirements, but there are strict income and financial resource limitations. Learn more here: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/ssi.htm
The Application and Review Processes
You can apply for benefits online, via the SSA’s website (http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm) or in person, at your local SSA office. If you apply in person, be sure to schedule an appointment in advance to avoid further delays. Either way, you should collect as many of your medical records as possible before submitting your application and provide the SSA with copies at the time you apply. This will shorten your wait for an initial decision on your claim.
If you are initially denied benefits, which may very well be the case, as most applications are denied following the initial review, you will need to file appeals to continue trying for benefits. The appeals process first requires you request a second review, and if denied again, you must then request an appeal hearing before an administrative law judge.
The entire process can take a year or more to proceed through, and having help from a Social Security advocate or attorney can significantly increase your chances of eventually being approved for benefits. Though the application and appeal processes are long and involved, they can get you the benefits you need to provide for your everyday living expenses. They can also get you health coverage through Medicare and/or Medicaid, as qualification for these programs comes hand-in-hand with approval for disability benefits through SSDI and/or SSI.