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Sjogren’s syndrome and Social Security Disability

Symptoms of a dry mouth and/or dry eyes may be early signs of Sjogren’s syndrome. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack the tissues of your own body instead of potential disease-causing agents. Researchers are not entirely sure why this happens.

The condition first affects the glands of your eyes and mouth that produce tears and saliva. It can decrease the function of both, which is why dryness in these areas can occur. Over time, however, Sjogren’s can affect other systems of the body, including some vital organs such as the lungs, liver and kidneys. Symptoms can range in severity, but more serious cases of Sjogren’s may qualify for Social Security Disability.

Risk factors

Sjogren’s syndrome usually occurs in people who already have a similar type of condition, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It is most likely to affect women over 40. Some people have a genetic predisposition to Sjogren’s syndrome, but genes alone are not enough to produce it. It appears that the disorder also requires some sort of triggering mechanism to develop, such as a bacterial or viral infection.

Constitutional signs/symptoms

To determine whether you qualify for SSDI on account of Sjogren’s syndrome, the Social Security Administration looks for constitutional signs and symptoms that can occur as a result:

  • Fever
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Malaise
  • Severe fatigue

You must demonstrate at least two of these constitutional symptoms before the SSA considers you for Social Security Disability benefits on account of Sjogren’s syndrome.

In addition, the SSA wants to know whether the condition limits your social functioning, daily living, etc. It also looks at whether the syndrome affects two or more body systems. The extent to which it impacts your functioning on a day-to-day basis and/or the severity of the symptoms in one or more body systems go toward determining your SSDI eligibility.