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Many people with lupus depend on SSDI benefits

Even though a person's chances of living with lupus for five years or more has increase from 50 percent in the 1950s to 95 percent today, the disabling condition is still very hard to endure for the approximate 1.5 million Americans who live with it. Luckily, in cases where the disease hinders a person's ability to work, he or she is often able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Lupus is qualified by the Social Security Administration as an autoimmune disorder, and it can attack various tissues in the body causing symptoms ranging from blindness to inability to walk. While lupus is named on the SSA's list of impairments qualifying for disability benefits, SSDI applicants still must demonstrate that they suffer from the disease and that it impairs their ability to work.

In addition to various symptoms including pain, numbness, difficulty walking or standing, and mental impairment, people with lupus can also suffer damage to the kidneys, central nervous system and other vital body systems. Interestingly, no two cases involving lupus are the same as the symptoms manifest themselves differently in different people.

Another interesting fact about lupus is that women are nine times more likely to develop lupus than men, according to a doctor with Mayo Clinic Rheumatology. He said in a lupus sufferer, the "immune system cannot distinguish the self-tissues from infections or bugs or other things" and it begins attacking itself.

The doctor added that female hormones also play a role in increasing the risk for the disease. He said it's vital that anyone with persistent symptoms of lupus see a rheumatologist because the condition can lead to other serious health problems like heart disease. Many people with lupus attempt to treat their symptoms with anti-inflammatory steroids.

As researchers continue to explore the causes and treatments for lupus, the hope is that one day people with the disease will be able to lead full lives free of pain and discomfort. Until that is possible, medications and SSDI benefits are often used as lifelines for lupus sufferers.

Source: News4Jax.com, "Living with Lupus," July 10, 2013

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