Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a medical condition that is spread through tick bites. People who do not realize that they have been bitten by a tick may experience serious and permanent complications due to the spread of infection. When irreversible complications develop, Lyme disease sufferers may become completely unable to work. If this happens, individuals could be eligible for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.

SSDI is an insurance program managed by the federal government and funded by paycheck deductions. People who have worked in the past may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits when they have a disability that is expected to last one year or longer.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread when a deer tick bites a person. The most obvious sign that a bite originates from a deer tick is a bullseye-shaped rash around the site of the bite. People who are bitten by a deer tick do not experience symptoms right away, and it can take a month before any symptoms are noticed.

Initial symptoms of Lyme disease include flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, stiffness in the muscles and headache. A condition known as Bell’s palsy that causes a loss of muscle tone in the face can also develop. Dizziness, pain and heart palpitations may also occur within the first month. Sleep disturbances, a lack of cognitive function and changes in mood may occur.

If Lyme disease goes untreated, the infection can spread to the joints and muscles. Long-term stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints and muscles may occur, and people who have Lyme disease that has progressed this far may live with these complications in the long term. Arthritis may also develop as a result.

Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics shortly after a tick bite occurs. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to prevent heart palpitations in order to stop long-term heart conditions from developing. Some people experience long-term fatigue after developing Lyme disease, and there are situations in which treatment options for fatigue do not improve the condition.

Can You Get Disability For Lyme Disease?

People who suffer from Lyme disease are eligible for SSDI benefits if complications of the disease interfere with their ability to perform job tasks. There are several listings maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that apply to complications related to Lyme disease.

If muscle weakness in the arms or legs makes it difficult for a person to walk or carry items, the disabled individual may qualify under the Musculoskeletal System listing. People with heart disease related to Lyme disease may be eligible under the Cardiovascular System listing, while cognitive impairment caused by the disease could qualify a person under the Mental Disorders listing. Severe arthritis in the knees or other joints could make a person eligible for benefits under the Inflammatory Arthritis listing.

If none of these listings apply, a person may still be eligible for benefits. However, the individual will need to undergo a residual functional capacity test. This test helps to evaluate the abilities of disabled individuals in order to determine whether they could work in any position for which they are qualified.

Getting Help From an Attorney

Anyone who is facing the SSDI benefits application process should consult with an attorney before beginning. Many applications are denied after they are first submitted, and confusion about the application process is often to blame. An SSDI attorney is able to guide clients through this process to remove the frustration of being denied when a valid disability is present. When SSDI benefits are needed to pay for basic necessities, applicants need the help of a legal professional.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.