Does Uveitis Qualify You for Social Security Disability?
Uveitis is a type of eye condition wherein the eye is inflamed. This condition can be acute, meaning short-term, or chronic. Typical symptoms include pain, eye redness and blurred vision. For most people, this condition is not severe and can be treated with little symptoms and side effects. But for some, this condition is quite severe and disabling.
What Causes Uveitis?
While the cause or trigger of uveitis is not always known, some of the more common causes include:
- infections in the eye
- underlying autoimmune disorder
- inflammatory disease
For those suffering from chronic uveitis, this is a lifelong condition with no cure, only palliative treatment. Medications, eye injections, and observation can only help to treat the condition and try to stabilize vision loss or extreme eye pain. Unfortunately, individuals suffering from this condition will likely experience progressive vision loss over time.
People suffering from chronic uveitis likely experience flare-ups in their condition. A flare is usually categorized as severe eye pain, headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light, dizziness and blurred vision. The frequency of flare-ups depends solely upon the individual. Some people experience flares once a week, others once a month. The same goes for the length and duration of the flares. For some, they are short-lived, less than 24 hours. For others, flares can last anywhere from three to five days.
Chronic Uveitis and the Social Security Disability Program
If you are suffering from chronic uveitis, you are likely struggling to maintain employment. If your symptoms include vision loss, severe pain, and flare-ups, you should consider applying for the social security disability program. You do not need to be legally blind to qualify for the social security disability program. There is a multitude of factors that go into determining whether an individual is disabled or not. If you think you may qualify for the program, the best thing you can do is to seek counsel from an experienced social security disability attorney. One that knows not only the symptoms related to uveitis but how disabling the treatments can be, including the eye injections your doctor may recommend.
When applying for disability benefits, social security will review your claim to determine if you meet social security’s definition of disability. This definition requires an individual to suffer from a severe medical condition that has affected the individual’s ability to work for a minimum of twelve months, or in the alternative is expected to end in death.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Once an application has been submitted, social security will first review your earnings record or your current work situation. If you are currently working, earning over $1,260 a month in gross, you will be found technically ineligible for the disability program. Applying for benefits is a long process. Social security does not expect you to be fully out of work throughout the process. But it does require the individual to be unable to engage in the substantial gainful activity (SGA) or earning less than $1,260 a month. You must show your earnings are limited based upon your medical conditions, and not because you are limiting them yourself. As long as you can show you are earning less than SGA, social security will then consider whether you suffer from a severe medically determinable impairment. This threshold is very low and requires only showing that your condition poses more than a minimal impact upon your ability to work. Suffering from uveitis, you likely are experiencing some type of vision loss. Any vision loss will likely automatically push you past step 2 of the process.
The third step in the analysis is determining whether you meet or equal one of social security’s listed conditions. Social security has created a list of conditions that are considered disabling, without further analysis into the individual physical or mental capabilities. While uveitis in and of itself is not considered a listed condition, the vision loss you may suffer would be. Vision loss is analyzed under Listing 2.02, 2.03 and 2.04. Generally, if you can show through an eye examination the remaining vision in the better eye to be 20/200 after correction, you will be found to meet a Listing due to visual impairment. If your eye examinations do not meet this requirement, that does not mean you are not disabled. It simply requires an analysis of your maximum functional capacity to determine if there is work available.
As mentioned, the next step would be to determine what you are functionally capable of doing. This is termed your residual functional capacity. In determining your residual functional capacity, social security will review your medical records for documentation of your conditions, symptoms and limitations. Once your residual functional capacity is determined, social security will then consider how those limitations affect your ability to perform your past relevant work and also any other work in the national economy. For work to be considered past relevant work, it must have been performed within the past fifteen years, for a long enough time frame for you to learn the job, and you must have engaged in a substantial gainful activity for that employment. After determining a list of your past relevant work, social security will consider whether your RFC precludes you from performing those jobs. If so, social security will then consider whether there is any other type of employment in the national economy in which you could perform in spite of your residual functional capacity. If no jobs are found, you will be found disabled under social security’s regulations.
A Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help
If all of this sounds lengthy and confusing, that is because it is. There are a significant number of regulations bound up in your application for social security disability benefits. This is why retaining an experienced disability attorney will provide you the best bet in terms of being approved for this program. At the LaBovick Law Group, we work with individuals suffering from vision loss resulting from a multitude of causes. We understand how your vision limits certain jobs and how to best prepare your claim for approval from the social security administration. Call us today at (561) 623-3681 for your free consultation and evaluation.