The Do’s and Don’ts of Lupus
Lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks its own tissue. The problem when your system attacks otherwise healthy tissue is that inflammation can occur. Inflammation caused by Lupus can cause several symptoms including fatigue, joint pain, and weakness. Oftentimes people experience flare-ups of their Lupus. While there is no cure for Lupus, there are activities that you can do to help reduce the severity and frequency of Lupus flares.
Here are a few suggestions to help reduce flare-ups from Lupus:
- One recommendation is to follow medication recommendations from your doctor, either your rheumatologist or primary care provider. Adherence to prescribed medication is an important factor in treating your Lupus. It should come as no surprise that your doctor will only prescribe you medications, they believe that will help your condition. It is important to take those medications not only to help alleviate your symptoms but it also helps your doctor know what treatment is actually helping you or if your treatment regimen needs to be adjusted.
- Another “do” is to attend frequent follow-up visits with your medical provider. If your rheumatologist is scheduling monthly follow-up appointments it is important for you to attend those appointments. Your medical provider will likely require updated lab work to determine if the treatment prescribed is helping. It is further important to discuss with your provider your ongoing symptoms, limitations, and potential side effects from medications. Because with Lupus you may experience flares, it is important to attend your appointments even if you are not experiencing a flare-up at that time.
- Learning about Lupus is another “do” recommendation. The more you know about your condition the better you will be able to manage it. It is important to know what triggers may cause a flare-up. It is also important to communicate with your family about your condition and the symptoms you experience. The more you and your family know about the condition and what may trigger a flare, the better you will be at avoiding flare-ups.
- One last “do” recommendation is to exercise. There are many health benefits to exercise but the main reason is to reduce the frequency of your flare-ups. It has been said the more you move the less frequent your flare-ups. This is not always the case but certainly cannot hurt.
In contrast to recommended activities, there are a few activities that you should abstain from. For example, you should not smoke, or drink alcohol excessively. You should also stay away from becoming pregnant unless your doctor has specifically advised you it is ok. Lastly, you should not overwork yourself. Stress and fatigue are two common triggers for Lupus. Get plenty of rest and keep your stress level low.
Individuals suffering from Lupus may require financial assistance to offset the expenses associated with lost income and medical treatment. If you suffer from Lupus and can no longer work, you may be eligible to receive social security disability benefits.
To determine if you are eligible to receive disability benefits, the social security administration will follow a five-step sequential evaluation process.
The first step in the process is to determine if you are earning substantial gainful activity. All this means is that if you are working and earning over a certain amount per month you will not be eligible to apply for disability benefits. If Lupus is preventing you from working, or limiting you from working more than 20 hours per week, you will likely pass step one easily, moving on to step two of the analysis.
Step two considers whether you suffer from a severe medical condition. Severity is evaluated as to whether a medical condition poses more than a minimal impact upon your ability to work. As long as you can document that you suffer from Lupus and your condition impacts your working ability you should have no problem passing step two in the analysis.
Step three considers whether your condition meets or equals one of Social Security’s Listed conditions. Social security has compiled a list of conditions in which they deem and of themselves are disabling. Lupus is considered under Listing 14.02. To determine whether your Lupus diagnosis qualifies you disabled under this Listing social security will review your medical evidence and compare it to Listing 14.02. This Listing has two potential components. The “A” component requires a showing of two or more organs affected by Lupus with at least of the organs affected to a moderate degree, along with two constitutional symptoms or signs such as severe fatigue, fever, malaise or involuntary weight loss. If your condition does not match the “A” component of this Listing, SSA will consider if you match the “B” component. This is exhibited by repeated manifestations of lupus with at least two of the constitutional symptoms (severe fatigue, fever, malaise or involuntary weight loss); with at least one of the following at the marked level: limitation of activities of daily living; limitation in maintaining social functioning; or limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration.
If your medical records do not specifically support meeting Listing 14.02 then social security will move on to step four and five of the analysis. To determine if you are disabled at these last steps social security must first assess your residual functional capacity. To do this they review your medical records for a compilation of your functional capabilities, both physical and mental. Once social security has determined what you are functionally capable of doing, they will then determine if your capabilities allow you to perform your past relevant work. If not, they will then consider whether you are capable of performing other work in the national economy based upon your functional limitations.
If the severity of your Lupus is preventing you from working, you are likely a great candidate for the social security disability program. At the LaBovick Law Group, we have helped a number of individuals suffering from Lupus obtain disability benefits. We know how best to represent your case to social security so as to obtain a quick and positive outcome. We are happy to review your case, free of charge, to see if this is the right program for you.