Lyme disease is a progressive infection caused by bacteria from the bite of a deer tick. The disease typically has three stages, each one with worse symptoms than the last, leading up to significant cognitive and physical disabilities if left untreated.
The symptoms of Lyme disease vary from person to person, and if your impairment is great enough, you could be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Qualifying for Disability with Lyme Disease
Lyme disease doesn't have a listing as a qualifying condition for disability payment in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book. However, there are several listings that meet the same criteria as people with advanced symptoms of the disease.
- Mobility issues. Common physical symptoms of Lyme disease can include numbness, tingling, and shooting pains in the extremities, as well as joint pain similar to arthritis. The condition can also result in chronic encephalomyelitis, which causes weakness in the legs, difficulty controlling the bladder, fatigue, and vertigo. Claimants may be able to get compensation if any of their symptoms prevent them from standing or walking.
- Cardiovascular problems. Later-stage Lyme disease has been known to cause damage to the heart, which may be compensable under the SSA’s listing for cardiovascular disability.
- Mental disorders. Encephalomyelitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, can cause both cognitive problems and mental disorders that make it difficult or impossible to work. Patients can suffer memory loss, loss of concentration, delusions, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or even hallucinations—all of which make working with others extremely problematic.
- Residual functional capacity (RFC). If you don’t meet the Blue Book requirements for Lyme disease under an alternative listing, you may still be able to claim benefits using a medical vocational allowance. You will have to provide proof of your diagnosis and symptoms to the SSA, which will weigh your restrictions against your age, education, and other factors. If the SSA finds it unlikely that you will be able to perform gainful employment based on your specific circumstances, you may be granted disability benefits.
If you're unable to work and your Social Security benefits have been denied, our attorneys can help you get your claim approved. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with a Social Security attorney.