Is an autoimmune disease a disability?

Social Security Disability for Autoimmune Disorders
By Kimberly BishopMay 15, 2016

This post discusses Social Security Disability for Autoimmune Disorders. If an Autoimmune Disorder is preventing you or someone you care for from working read on for how Social Security will evaluate your claim for disability benefits.

The Bishop Law Firm represents disability clients in Raleigh, NC and surrounding areas. Call us for a free case review, (919) 615-3095 or start online now.

Types of Autoimmune Disease

According to the AARDA , autoimmune diseases affect the lives of up to 23.5 million Americans. There are several types of autoimmune disorders. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Celiac Disease, Pernicious Anemia, Vitiligo, Scleroderma, Psoriasis, Psoriatic arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease , Hashimoto’s disease, Addison’s disease, Graves disease, reactive arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and Type I Diabetes (Via Healthline) are all autoimmune disorders.

Lyme Disease itself is not a autoimmune disorder but may trigger an autoimmune response by the body (via

Autoimmune disorders can cause low activity or over activity of the immune system. In cases of immune system over activity, the body attacks and damages its own tissues (as in inflammatory arthritis).  

Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body’s ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections (immune deficiency disorders like ALPS, BENTA and CVID). 

Treatment for an autoimmune disorder generally focuses on reducing immune system activity (Via WebMD). Immunosuppressants, such as Prednisone and Methotrexate, can have their own long term disabling side effects.

In my clients that take immunosuppressants, many have to take them long term and can suffer a surge of worsening symptoms once they are discontinued. Severe fatigue, joint pain, inflammation, recurrent infections and skin rashes are some of the symptoms my clients inform me of. There is no cure for an autoimmune disease so the cycle can lead to chronic illness.

Is an autoimmune disease a disability?

As with most impairments, having a autoimmune disease itself does not make you disabled for Social Security Disability. The severity of your symptoms and how the autoimmune disease affects you is the real question.

For example, some people with Lupus have few to any symptoms, while others with the diagnosis can have severe life-altering symptoms.

If your autoimmune disorder is preventing you from working due to pain, loss of function, fatigue, medication side effects, etc. you may be found disabled.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

There are two main types of Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life while SSI is a need based program.

You must be found disabled under SSA's Five Step Sequential Evaluation before you are entitled to either type of benefit.

There are also several levels of appeal you may have to go through to have your case approved. 


How to qualify for Social Security Disability

Your specific diagnosis will determine how the Social Security Administration will evaluate your claim for Social Security Disability for Autoimmune Disorders.

Listing 14.00 Immune System Disorders may be used or the Medical Vocational Guidelines (SSA Grid Rules).

Listing 14.00 discusses what information SSA needs to determine if you are disabled. This listing discusses Lupus, Vasculitis, Scleroderma, Connective Tissue Disease and Inflammatory Arthritis to name a few.

Most people do not meet SSA’s listings because they are usually difficult to meet. If you do meet one of these listings, working is the last thing on your mind.

The Medical Vocational Guidelines (The Grids) may offer more help for someone 50 or older but offer little assistance for anyone else. For those that are 50 and older whose symptoms reduce their ability to walk, stand and carry, you may be found disabled based on the grid rules.

Even if you do not meet a listing or grid, you can still be found disabled on the combination of your impairments. Autoimmune Diseases can co-occur and as we age other impairments can develop that eliminate your ability to work. In addition, side effects from immunosuppressants can alone be disabling.

Being treated by a specialist (i.e. rheumatologist) for your impairment with medical records (objective evidence) confirming your diagnosis, treatments and symptoms (subjective evidence) can help your case. Also, obtaining an opinion from your doctor about your inability to work can help your claim for disability benefits.

If you are unable to work due to a autoimmune disorder or medication side effects, file a claim for Social Security Disability as soon as possible and call The Bishop Law Firm.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in RaleighDurhamFayettevilleCary, Rocky MountWilsonSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids , Winston SalemGarner, GreensboroGreenville and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case review or start online now.

Also read NC Social Security Disability Lawyer

Also read our posts on:  Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Psoriasis , Inflammatory Bowel Disease ,  reactive arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and Type I Diabetes 

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