Immune System Disorders and Long Term Disability

Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend your body against germs. It helps your body to recognize these “foreign” invaders, and then works to keep them out. If it cannot keep them out of the body, the immune system’s job is to find and destroy them.

If your immune system fails to do its job or fails to do it correctly, the results can be serious. Disorders of the immune system that may qualify for long term disability benefits include the following:

  • Connective tissue disease (undifferentiated and mixed). Connective tissue is the material between the cells of the body that gives tissues form and strength. This “cellular glue” also delivers nutrients to the tissue, and in the special functioning of certain tissues. Connective tissue is made up of dozens of proteins, including collagens, proteoglycans, and glycoproteins. The combination of these proteins can vary between tissue types. The genes that encode these proteins can harbor defects or mutations, which can affect the functioning of certain properties of connective tissue in selected tissues. When this occurs, the result can be a heritable disorder—one that can be inherited, or passed from parent to child—of connective tissue. Individuals who suffer from undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue diseases are often unable to maintain full-time employment due to the symptoms the conditions present.
  • HIV. A combination of the following symptoms may render a claimant completely disabled and unable to sustain full time work activity: bacterial infections, fungal infections, protozoan infections, helminthic infections, viral infections, malignant neoplasms, non-responsive ulcerations or lesions, motor or cognitive dysfunction, wasting syndrome, sinusitis, sepsis, endocarditis, meningitis, septic arthritis, pneumonia, or chronic diarrhea.
  • Immune-deficiency disorders (except HIV/AIDS). Immunodeficiency disorders prevent your body from being able to fight infections and diseases adequately. An immune-deficiency disorder therefore makes you considerably more susceptible to catching viruses and bacterial infections. If your infections (which can be pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, septic arthritis, sinusitis, or endocarditis) are either resistant to an acceptable form of treatment or severe and frequent enough that you need to be hospitalized and/or given IV treatments multiple times per year, you may qualify for LTD benefits.
  • Inflammatory arthritis. The spectrum of inflammatory arthritis disorders differ in cause, course, and outcome. Clinically, inflammation of the major peripheral joints (such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, or ankle) may be the dominant manifestation causing difficulties with walking or fine and gross movements (fine motor skills involve small movements with the fingers, toes, lips, wrists, or tongue, and involve activities such as picking up a pencil or grabbing a cup; gross motor skills involve larger muscles in the arms, legs, trunk, and feet, and involve big movements such as running, jumping, hopping, walking). Inflammation may also cause joint pain, swelling, and tenderness. With constitutional symptoms or signs such as severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and involuntary weight loss, inflammatory arthritis may result in an extreme limitation an inability to perform in daily functions or work environments.
  • Lupus. One may qualify for long term disability benefits due to lupus, which may cause moderate to severe weight loss, fever, malaise, and fatigue. If your lupus manifests repeatedly and can be shown to severely limit your daily activity or ability to function in social or work environments, you may qualify for LTD benefits.
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) where the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged. (see System sclerosis, below).
  • Polymyositis/Dermatomyositis. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis (PM/DM) are chronic inflammatory diseases of muscle. Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of PM/DM. You may qualify for LTD benefits if you have shoulder or pelvic muscle weakness and loss of gross and fine movement ability, if your muscle weakness causes difficulty swallowing or breathing or if it severely affects joint mobility or your intestines’ functions.
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome. The symptoms and qualifications for long term disability benefits are similar to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above.
  • Systemic Sclerosis (Multiple Sclerosis (MS)). The symptoms and qualifications for long term disability benefits are similar to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above. You may also qualify for LTD benefits due to MS because of fixed deformities which cause the loss of ability to walk normally or perform fine motor skills, or permanent damage in either foot or both hands. You may also qualify for benefits if you’ve had several manifestations which can be shown to severely limit your ability to perform in a work environment.
  • Systemic vasculitis. The symptoms and qualifications for long term disability benefits are similar to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Psoriasis
  • Raynaud’s Disease
  • Scleroderma