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Impairment focus: Lupus

This week, an unauthorized biographer has reported that pop singer Lady Gaga chooses many of her outlandish wigs and costumes to hide the side effects of lupus. Last year, Lady Gaga admitted that she had tested "borderline positive" for lupus, but that she was not suffering from any major symptoms of the disease. However, biographer Ian Halperin is claiming that Lady Gaga wears her ever-present wigs and makeup to hide the hair loss and rashes that are often caused by the disease

Lady Gaga has not publicly stated whether that is the case, but it seemed that her potential struggle with lupus was a good reason to feature it this week. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, and it causes patients' immune systems to overact, attacking the skin, muscles and joints, as well as internal organs such as the brain, lungs and kidneys.

Because the severity of lupus varies so greatly among patients, its symptoms are equally inconsistent. Patients may suffer from pain and numbness, impaired vision or hearing, difficulty with balance and coordination, inability to stand or walk, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, damage to the kidneys and other central nervous system, and mental impairment.

While the Social Security Administration recognizes lupus in its listing of impairments, it does not include a specific description of the disease and details about what will qualify a lupus patient for Social Security Disability benefits. Therefore, SSD applicants should document and provide evidence of the effects of lupus on their ability to perform work duties and other substantial gainful activity.

Source: KTVB, "New hope for people with lupus," 3 July 2011

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