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Complex illnesses make for complex SSD cases

The human body is marvelously complex. Some doctors might characterize it slightly differently, as terrifyingly complex. With so much going on, there is a great deal to go wrong. Sometimes, it goes wrong in a clearly obvious fashion, as with cancer, which can devastate organs, and whose treatment can be as disabling as the disease itself.

Other conditions, like lupus, can be no less devastating, but because medical science has yet to understand exactly how they function, and the degree to which a person may be disabled by the disease, explaining to Social Security's disability determination examiners how you have been affected by the disease can be difficult.

A recent news story highlights the difficulty such a disease for those afflicted. The woman was a highly-skilled nurse in an intensive care department of a large hospital. But over time, she realized her own health was becoming questionable. Eventually, it was discovered she suffered from systemic lupus, a troubling disease where the body's own immune system begins to attack various organs and tissue.

Her condition declined to the point where she could no longer work and she applied for Social Security Disability but was denied benefits. Like many, she has appealed for a hearing.

The article notes that her case is made more difficult by SSA's decision to downplay the testimony of treating physicians. This is because, with conditions like lupus, fibromyalgia, MS or various mental disorders, the patient's treating physician may have the best understanding of the complex web of symptoms that have left the person disabled.

For a doctor or other examiner, with no first-hand experience examining the patient, the symptoms may appear inadequate to support a disability determination. The trouble is, these individuals are often profoundly disabled, and demoting the testimony of doctor with the best perspective on the condition, and using that to deny benefits, will save very little money for the SSD program and work a grave hardship on these individuals. And denying them benefits won't force them to work because their conditions are truly disabling.

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