How to File for Lyme-Related Disability Benefits

Posted on 06. Feb, 2011 by in Money Issues

Disability Workbook for Social Security ApplicantsIf you have chronic lyme and its associated neurological deficits, chances are you’ll find yourself disabled enough to be unemployed (and unemployable) at some point. When this happens, how do you survive?

One of the first things to do is to evaluate your situation in terms of the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) requirements. Remember that to qualify for SSDI, you’ll need to be completely unable to work (ok, you can earn under $1000 per month, but that’s not much). AND your condition needs to be expected to continue for at least 12 months total, including any months that may have lapsed already.

Once of the best guides for determining eligibility and working through the process of filing for SSDI benefits is the Disability Workbook for Social Security Applicants. It’s written in plain English, and has plenty of worksheets for you to fill out in preparation for filing your claim and dealing with all of the required hearings.

Another great resource, believe it or not, is the Multiple Sclerosis Society. They have a section on Social Security Disability that walks people through the claims process from an MS standpoint, which has striking similarities to the typical neurological lyme symptoms and deficits. The MS Society’s worksheets are very clear about which disability sections may be applicable to MS (and lyme) patients, so it’s a good idea to review their resources as well.

Do you need a lawyer to file for disability? It depends… According to the Disability Workbook for Social Security Applicants, most people file on their own and even go through their first request for reconsideration without legal representation. However, the guidebook does recommend that you seek legal assistance if your claim is denied upon reconsideration.

Here’s what you must prove to qualify for SSDI:

  • That you lack the ability to engage in any substantial gainful activity;
  • by reason of one or more medically determinable physical or mental impairments;
  • which can be expected to result in death; or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

There’s a lot of paperwork involved in this process, and lawyer or no lawyer, the brunt of it will fall on you to prepare. The lawyer cannot put together the details of your health history, your list of symptoms that are causing your disability, copies of your medical records, letters from your doctors, and all the rest of the documentation that is required for a properly filed claim. The Disability Workbook for Social Security Applicants will walk you through gathering all of this documentation. If you’re a youth with disabilities, The 411 on Disability Disclosure (a free ebook) may help you to get started. A lawyer can, however, help to review all of this information to make sure that it’s complete and properly stated before you file your claim, or during the appeals process.

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8 Responses to “How to File for Lyme-Related Disability Benefits”

  1. Clara Chauteco

    09. Feb, 2011

    What do you do when you are being treated outside of the country because your own American doctors have no clue what they are doing and mis-diagnose you each and every time you are seen? I have been denied disability benefits because I’m being treated in Mexico. My doctor, like most doctors in Mexico does not keep any records. I have not worked since June of 2009. As my health continues to decline, so does the hope of returning to work. We are paying cash for my treatment, and it’s not cheap. Even in Mexico, it’s not cheap to treat this! Much of the time, we come home with less than half of my prescriptions, because we just can’t afford it!

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      09. Feb, 2011

      Clara, I’m not sure how to respond to this. The SSDI does require documentation of some type, so you’ll need to figure out how to supply it. Maybe your docs will write a letter describing your symptoms and treatments? You could make it easier on them by preparing an outline of some sort.

      Reply to this comment
    • admin

      09. Jul, 2011

      Clara, likely you’re going to have to provide some sort of documentation to the SSDI folks as to why you’re disabled. Not necessarily all of your medical records, but enough evidence to prove your disability. Do you have any lab tests or similar that you could use?

      Reply to this comment
  2. gloria rettinger

    09. Jul, 2011

    I know that I have chronic lyme disease, I also know that I had a bull eye rash, but the lyme test I took came out negative.. I was turned down twice now by ssdi.. there is no way i can work I am certain I have neurological damage.. I just can’t prove it..I can’t afford the western lyme blot or some of the newer tests that our out at $1000. not sure what to do next with ssdi.. If anyone is diabled I am. drs. in las vegas have no clue.. not sure what to do nexy.. any suggestions would be appreciated. thank-you gloria

    Reply to this comment
    • Jan

      20. Jan, 2012

      Hi Gloria, u will need the western blot , most hospitals require u get the western blot test kit from the lymes center sent to the hospital of your choice. Kit had cost me $98.00
      I have chronic lymes over twenty years now and again trying for disability.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Debbie Thompson

    21. Aug, 2013

    I’ve pretty much given up on disability, they’ve turned me down so many times, and have dug in their heels. I’ve started to put my case in my facebook photos, because there seems to be nothing else I can do. Haven’t been able to work since 2002, and I went misdiagnosed with not much more than “in your head”, for most of my life. No diagnosis until 2007 (RMSF) and Lyme in 2009 (brain lesions – problem is that they played CYA on the hospital report, saying that although Lyme and RMSF cause these lesions, mine were from smoking and age – that is just one incident of many that makes me feel like a Tuskegee victim).

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  4. marilyn

    25. Aug, 2013

    An MRI can prove neurologic disability. Also knowing what is on the disability list. I would def go in with a lawyer that is known to win his her cases.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Val

    06. Feb, 2014

    I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme in Sept 2013 but have been sick for 4-5 yrs. At the time I was bitten I was a stay at home mom (still am) but now need to look at having someone come into my home to help with cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc. My questions is am I eligible for disability benefits if I wasn’t employed at the time I was bitten? From approximately 1985-2000 I was employed outside the home. Thanks.

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