Immune System Disorders

This category includes medical disorders arising due to deficiency of one or more components of the immune system. They include systemic lupus erythematosus; systemic vasculitis; systemic sclerosis and scleroderma; undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue diseases; inflammatory arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis); inflammatory bowel disease; Sjogren’s syndrome; and other immune deficiency disorders including HIV.  

Individuals who have been properly diagnosed with one of these disorders are not automatically eligible for disability benefits.  Before benefits will be awarded, there must be either objective clinical evidence that the disease process has progressed to a very severe level, or that the symptoms it produces impose functional limitations that preclude significant work activities.

As with all disability claims, the process for determining eligibility based on the symptoms of immune system disorders is highly individualized.  For example, a surgeon or air traffic controller with Sjogren’s-related ocular dryness that precludes extended use of the eyes shouldn’t have much difficulty establishing a claim based on an “own occupation” standard of disability.  However, the same person may encounter difficulty attempting to prove an inability to perform less visually demanding types of work.

It should be pointed out that the treatment of immune system disorders frequently involves administration of high dosages of powerful medications that can produce nausea, fatigue and other significant side effects. Careful documentation of these can sometimes make the difference between success and failure in cases involving these disorders.