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When doctors disagree

Some illnesses and medical conditions are well understood and relatively identifiable. While misdiagnoses are possible with most conditions, they are less likely for those conditions that have clear symptoms and definitive tests.

A biopsy of lung tissue for a long-time smoker indicating lung cancer or X-rays indicating deteriorating vertebrae and discs in a spine are very strong evidence of their respective medical conditions and it is unlikely that doctors would disagree with such results.

If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, compelling medical documentation of your condition is important. If you have a severe medical condition, you may even qualify for the quick approval for SSD benefits through the Compassionate Allowances program.

Nevertheless, not all conditions provide clear evidence of their disabling effects. Lyme disease, a tick- borne illness, has been identified since the 1970s, but disagreements still exist regarding how long-lasting its effect may be.

For those who do not receive treatment soon after the bite, the disease can lead to long-term medical issues, causing damage to their nervous system and joints. Doctors may not recognize the early symptoms, which can lead to complications. Some argue that you could develop "chronic Lyme disease", while other researchers suggest that you would only be suffering  the symptoms of "post-Lyme disease syndrome."

Because the chronic Lyme symptoms, such as joint pain, fatigue, "brain fog" are similar to symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, MS and rheumatoid arthritis, distinguishing Lyme from those conditions may be difficult.

Any of these chronic diseases can be disabling by ending your ability to function in many jobs, but your application for SSD benefits will be more difficult to assemble, as there may be no single test or diagnosis that clearly identifies your medical condition. But even with these complex impairments, you can demonstrate your disability by the weight of the evidence in your application.

The assistance of an attorney experienced with the SSD process can help with your application, to see that it accurately represents all of your medical issues with documentation from treatments, surgeries, medications, tests and all of your interactions with medical professionals. 

Source:, "Lyme disease still stuck in controversy," Leslie Mann, Chicago Tribune, August 20, 2015

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