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About Lupus and Disability


When lupus disability prevents you from working, the denial of your claim for disability benefits can be devastating to you and your family. The deciding factor in qualifying for benefits is whether or not lupus affects your ability to work.

As disability attorneys, Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers have a full understanding of the basis for denial that government disability programs and insurance companies use to deny disability claims for immune disorders such as lupus.

About Lupus and Disability

Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease, where the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The medical term for lupus is Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

People living with lupus experience many debilitating symptoms, including inflammatory arthritis, muscle inflammation, eye inflammation, and problems with their lungs, heart, kidneys, and skin. They endure fatigue, fever, discomfort and pain. Lupus can seriously interfere with a person’s ability to earn an income. As lupus has no cure, the goal of treatment is to control the symptoms as the disease progresses.

Treatment includes cytotoxic drugs (chemotherapy drugs to block cell growth), high-dose corticosteroids, and narcotics. Cytotoxic drugs have various, severe side effects. The use of steroids can result in long-term side effects that are disabling in their own right, such as osteoporosis, infections, and diabetes mellitus.

What Is Lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect any organ or body system. It is frequently accompanied by severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and weight loss. SLE is much more common in women, who account for 85% to 90% of the cases.

SLE is a multisystem disease. The immune response against the body’s own tissues can affect any organ, with joint, muscle, ocular, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, renal, hematologic, skin, neurological, or mental involvement.

Cause of Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. Its cause is not well understood, but it does have a genetic component. Numerous “lupus genes” that influence the probability of developing lupus have been identified. SLE probably appears when a person has a particular combination of genes. Due to the complexity of the disease, a cure for SLE is not likely in the near future.

Severity of Lupus

SLE is unpredictable; it is characterized by exacerbations and improvements. It may follow a benign course and be highly responsive to medication, or it may take a sudden severe course leading to early death despite therapy. Any combination of organ systems can be involved in a particular individual, in any degree of severity.

Effects of Lupus

Lupus may result in:

  • Inflammatory arthritis in the joints.
  • Muscle inflammation, pain and weakness.
  • Inflammation of the eye (uveitis), resulting in pain and blurry vision.
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems such as pleuritis, pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs (lupus pneumonitis), and bronchiectasis.
  • Heart problems, such as arrhythmias, murmurs, endocarditis, and cardiomyopathy with heart failure.
  • Digestive problems such as abnormal contractions of the esophagus (dysmotility) or inflammation of arteries (vasculitis) supplying organs of the gastrointestinal system, resulting in pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain, ulcers, weight loss, or death of intestinal tissue (intestinal infarction) requiring surgical intervention.
  • Kidney problems such as chronic renal failure, which is a common cause of death in SLE.
  • Blood (hematologic) problems which can result in decreased platelets, decreased white cells, or decreased red cells (anemia). Decreased platelets increase susceptibility to bleeding. Decreased white cells increase susceptibility to infection. Anemia results in easy fatigability and weakness.
  • Skin problems leading to scarring, and the need to avoid direct sunlight (photosensitivity).
  • Nervous system involvement resulting in inflammation of the central nervous system—spinal cord and brain.
  • Mental disorders (e.g., psychosis, depression, and organic brain syndrome), which arises from nervous system inflammation.
  • Arterial inflammation (vasculitis) resulting in impaired blood flow to various organs. Impaired blood flow to the hands and feet can decrease tolerance to cold.

Additional possible abnormalities that may be associated with SLE include:

  • Muscle aches (myalgia).
  • Joint pain (arthralgia).
  • Hair loss (alopecia).
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly).
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly).
  • Sensitivity to cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)

Long Term Disability Insurance Denials of Lupus Disability Benefits

Insurance companies are likely to challenge a disability claim for lupus. With periods of remission and response to treatment, and varying rates of progression, lupus can be unpredictable. Insurance providers can be quick to manipulate these complications into a legal argument, hoping that a denial will be enough to deter you from pursuing it any further.

The fact that you have been diagnosed with systemic lupus may not be enough. Perhaps you also develop kidney disease, and then undergo a period of remission. An insurer might challenge that you are not permanently disabled. They might argue that you have no objective evidence to support a claim for disability.

Our attorneys are familiar with the complicated medical facts surrounding lupus disability. Every day, we challenge insurance companies – the “Top Deniers” of long term disability insurance claims – who seek to guard their own interests rather than honor legitimate claims.

Don’t give up hope if your claim for disability benefits was denied. When an insurer treats you unfairly, we can promptly step in and help you fight back.

Contact Us Today

If your claim for long term disability insurance benefits for Lupus was denied, you need an experienced attorney to get you the benefits you deserve. Call Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers without delay, for a free evaluation of your claim: 800-249-3731. Ask for a Free Consultation with a lawyer at our firm for trusted, respected counsel about your lupus disability claim.

We represent disability insurance claimants all over the United States and deal routinely with the “big deniers” of group and individual LTD insurance.

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