This post discusses Lyme Disease and Social Security Disability. If you are unable to work due to Lyme Disease read on for how the Social Security Administration will evaluate your claim for disability benefits.
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (deer tick). The bacteria common in the U.S. is Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii.
Initially after a tick bite, there will be a raised bump that appears similar to a mosquito bite. This alone done not mean you have Lyme disease. Within a month of being bitten, infected individuals can develop a rash, but not all infected develop the rash. The rash can appear in the form of a bulls-eye and spread to 12 inches wide.
As Lyme’s is left untreated, additional symptoms of fever, chills, fatigue, body pain, headache, joint pain and neurological problems may arise. Lyme’s is diagnosed by physical history and blood tests. Unfortunately it takes time for the antibody to demonstrate itself in blood work so early testing may be negative when in fact a person may be infected.
If left untreated, Lyme’s can cause Lyme Arthritis, neuropathy, impaired memory and heart palpitations. Treatment for Lyme’s involves oral or intravenous antibiotics. Unfortunately, 10% of those treated do not get better after antibiotics.
SSA does not have a disability listing specifically for Lyme disease. But you may meet another of SSA’s listings based on complications from your Lyme’s disease. For example, you could be found disabled based on Listing 14.09A, Inflammatory Arthritis.
Also, you can be found disabled based on the grid rules. You can read our Medical-Vocational Guidelines (Grid Rules) post for more information.
Finally, you can be found disabled based on the combination of your impairments. Unfortunately, Lyme’s can affect different parts of your body thus causing different diagnoses. SSA can determine that the combination of your impairments prevent you from working.
In my client’s with Lyme Disease, I hear fatigue, joint pain and headaches as their most common symptoms. Also, they tell me that it is difficult to find a doctor who is familiar with and can treat Lyme’s. Even when they find a doctor who is familiar with Lyme disease, the main treatment is antibiotics. They have received several rounds of antibiotics to no avail. They continue to have the above symptoms despite following all medical advice. If this is happening to you and is preventing you from working, you should consider filing a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits.