Qualifying for Disability Benefits (SSDI) with Lupus in New Jersey

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal agency that provides monthly benefits to disabled Americans who meet certain eligibility standards. If you are a New Jersey resident who has been diagnosed with lupus, you may qualify to receive monthly benefits, depending on your work history and other factors. For example, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is available for both adults and children with lupus or other serious medical conditions.

Unfortunately, the process of filing a claim can be challenging, with roughly two-thirds of all claims initially denied. Whether you are applying for benefits for the first time, or appealing a denied disability claim, working with an experienced SSDI lawyer makes the process simpler while increasing your odds of success. At Young, Marr & Associates, we are New Jersey disability attorneys with more than 30 years of experience filing claims and representing applicants at SSA hearings. If you need help filing a disability claim for lupus, Young, Marr & Associates is here to provide assistance. Contact us online to get started, or call (215) 515-2954 for a free legal consultation today.

What Are the Symptoms and Effects of Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can have serious, in some cases disabling effects. Signs and symptoms of lupus, which is also called “systemic lupus erythematosus” (SLE), include:

  • Anemia
  • Chest pain
  • Depression
  • Joint pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin rashes

How Do You Qualify for SSDI with Lupus in New Jersey?

Though not curable, lupus can generally be managed with medication and other treatments. However, in certain cases, the effects of lupus may be severe enough to prevent the person from working, even if he or she is receiving treatment.

If this describes your situation, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. However, you must meet medical and employment-related criteria to qualify. These criteria include the following:

  • Medical Criteria
    • Your condition must be severe enough to prevent you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), which the SSA measures in terms of your monthly earnings. If you are earning more than $1,220 per month as of 2019, you are engaging in SGA and do not qualify for SSDI. Put simply, your condition must be severe enough to prevent you from working substantially.
    • Your condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, for at least one year.
  • Employment-Related Criteria
    • You must have accumulated a certain number of “work credits.” The number of work credits you need depends on your age, along with other factors. You earn work credits – up to four per year, maximum – by working and paying Social Security (FICA) taxes. If a disability applicant does not have an employment history – for example, if your child is disabled – he or she may qualify for other types of benefits that do not have a work credits requirement.

Is Lupus Considered a Disability?

Some people experience a mild form of lupus, while for others, the symptoms are severe. The SSA only provides benefits to people who are so severely impaired that they are unable to work and earn income. Therefore, the SSA will evaluate you to determine whether you meet or equal certain medical standards. These standards are contained in the SSA Listing of Impairments, colloquially called “the Blue Book,” which exists in two separate versions: one for adults, and one which applies to children.

The adult Blue Book listing for lupus is located under Section 14.00, which broadly deals with immune system disorders. Specifically, lupus is listed at Section 14.02 (systemic lupus erythematosus). This section calls for the applicant to exhibit “two [or more] of the constitutional symptoms or signs” of lupus, including “severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss.” In addition, a total of “two or more organs/body systems” must be involved “to at least a moderate level of severity.” Alternately, you must experience “[l]imitation of activities of daily living,” “[l]imitation in… social functioning,” or “[l]imitation in completing tasks in a timely manner.”

Even if you do not match these standards, you can still qualify for SSDI if you can show that your disability is equivalent to the listing. In other words, you do not have to meet the SSA’s exact criteria, as long as you can show that you are too disabled to work and engage in SGA.

What is the Maximum SSDI Benefit in 2019?

Social Security Disability Benefits are generally paid out on a monthly basis to applicants whose claims are approved. The federal government sets certain caps, or maximums, which are adjusted annually for inflation. According to SSA data, the maximum SSDI amount in 2019 is $2,861, up slightly from $2,788 per month in 2018. The average SSDI payment in 2019 is approximately $1,234. If your claim is approved, the amount you receive depends on the nature and severity of your disability, the age at which you apply for benefits, and other factors.

New Jersey SSDI Lawyers for Lupus Patients

If you have been diagnosed with lupus, you may qualify for SSDI benefits in New Jersey. For a free legal consultation about New Jersey disability benefits, contact Young, Marr & Associates online, or call (215) 515-2954 today.