Lyme Disease and Disability Benefits
In the United States, Lyme disease affects as many as 30,000 people a year. Yet despite this prevalence, the disease and its effects are often not fully understood, which can make it difficult for sufferers to file for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
If Lyme disease is limiting your ability to provide for yourself, enlisting the services of a disability lawyer with expertise in SSD and SSI can increase your chances of filing a successful claim for benefits. To find out more, contact Media, PA attorney Lisa M. Ritacco. For more than nine years, we have been representing clients who have had their claims rejected. We understand that a severe case of Lyme disease can have a dramatic effect on your life, but we also believe it doesn’t have to devastate your entire life— get the benefits you deserve and start improving your quality of life today!
Can You Get Disability for Lyme Disease?
It’s well known that Lyme disease is spread by tick bites, but beyond that, there is a considerable amount of misinformation about the disease among the public. The initial symptoms of acute Lyme disease include a characteristic bulls-eye shaped rash that appears along with flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, muscle pains, chills and swollen lymph nodes. If the infection is caught right away, a course of antibiotics is often able to halt the disease. Unfortunately, many people do not see the initial tick or notice the bulls-eye rash around the tick bite. Thus, they may not realize that their symptoms could be caused by Lyme disease, and may not seek appropriate treatment. If left untreated, however, Lyme disease progresses to the disseminated stage, where the infection spreads throughout the body. This stage can last months to years after the initial infection. Symptoms vary but may include nerve problems, fatigue, memory problems, facial palsy, arthritis and more. As many as 5% of sufferers will develop chronic neurological problems.
In its most severe instances, chronic Lyme disease — as well as a related condition known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) — can severely affect an individual’s ability to work. While the number of people who have had Lyme disease disability claims approved is small, it is possible for it to be covered under SSD or SSI with proper medical documentation.
Filing a Lyme Disease Disability Claim: First Steps
Because chronic Lyme disease is a relatively unique situation, your first step when filing for SSI or SSD should be to meet with a qualified disability law attorney. Lisa Ritacco has successfully represented many individuals suffering from chronic Lyme disease. Your initial consultation with the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco is always free — during the consultation, we’ll go over your symptoms and advise you on how to proceed, including which medical records you will need to obtain to effectively present your case.
Applying for Disability for Lyme Disease? A Lawyer Can Help
In the Social Security Blue Book, Lyme disease is mentioned, but only in reference to the inflammatory arthritic symptoms that some patients experience. It is not recognized as a separate Blue Book condition on its own, so it is notoriously difficult for some Lyme disease sufferers to secure benefits. In fact, most are denied benefits the first few times they apply. If you were diagnosed with Lyme disease and you require disability benefits, your best option is to speak with a disability lawyer experienced in Lyme disease cases.
There are many challenges that Lyme disease applicants face when applying for disability benefits:
- Not all doctors recognize or properly diagnose the condition, delaying the start of treatment and often resulting in long-term misdiagnoses
- The symptoms fluctuate widely from patient to patient, making the condition hard to diagnose
- Many patients experience periods of no symptoms at all or remissions before experiencing debilitating symptoms again
- Some Lyme disease patients suffer debilitating symptoms while others suffer very mild forms of the disease, meaning each patient has to be considered on a case-by-case basis
Lisa M. Ritacco focuses exclusively on SSI, Disability, and workers’ compensation cases, and she understands how difficult it is to prove Lyme disease disability. She has worked with many Lyme disease applicants and helped them secure benefits.
Proving Eligibility for Lyme Disease Disability Benefits
In most cases, claimants with Lyme disease will be trying to prove they meet the SSA definitions of disability, not trying to prove that they have Lyme disease. They need to submit evidence that their condition has caused them long-term, lasting, and debilitating symptoms that prevent them from work and everyday activities.
If you have Lyme disease, you can attempt to secure benefits by:
- Obtaining detailed doctors’ reports that list your diagnosis, your treatment and how your condition has affected your functionality
- Keeping detailed records of your symptoms
- Keeping detailed documentation of doctors’ visits, treatments, and more
- Working closely with an experienced disability attorney who understands how to file Lyme disease disability cases effectively
- Finding ways to document and show how Lyme disease has affected you. This may involve testimony from family and friends, comparisons of functionality before and after your diagnosis, and more.
- Keep RFC (residual functional capacity) forms that show how your condition has affected your ability to perform basic tasks and work
One of the best ways to prove Lyme disease disability eligibility is to work with an attorney who has previously handled similar applications and appeals. Lisa M. Ritacco is an attorney who focuses only on SSI, Disability, and workers’ compensation claims. She has worked with Lyme disease applicants and secured compensation and benefits for them. She understands how to find doctors who recognize Lyme disease and can diagnose it accurately. She also understands the proper documentation needed to prove the extent of your disability.
Call the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.
Denied Disability Benefits Due to Lyme Disease?
If you’ve filed for Social Security Disability due to Lyme disease and had your claim rejected, you have 60 days upon receipt of the denial letter to file an appeal. Once you have filed an appeal, contact Ritacco Disability Law and let us begin working on your case. Based near Media, PA, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the surrounding regions where Lyme disease is present.