Lupus

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lupus and disability



                                                       Lupus and Disability
     Lupus can be such a debilitating disease and working is not something everyone with lupus can do.  In researching lupus and disability, I found many websites and resources, I tried to put all the information together as best I could.  I hope you find this helpful and I wish it was easier to get disability when you are very ill and can no longer work.  Unfortunately, it seems like the system is made putting so much effort into people applying for benefits, that are not ill or ill enough to receive them.  I wish we had an easier way of applying and receiving benefits that us as employees pay into, especially because it causes so much stress and work to even apply.  It is hard to just shower and put on clothes when suffering with a debilitating illness, let alone trying to prove that you are ill enough for YOUR benefits.  AND this is already after you had to prove that you had lupus to your doctors in the first place.  Of course, not all people have a long hard journey at getting a lupus diagnosis, just a large portion.   Remember to document EVERYTHING!!  Somethings in these articles maybe redundant but I thought it fitting to include all that I did, being that the information is provided differently.  Best of luck!


 Social Security and Disability Resource center
 http://www.ssdc.com/

Lupus and disability Website
http://www.lupus-disability.com/

Can I Get Disability Benefits for Lupus?

http://www.jamesdisabilitylaw.com/lupus-2.htm 

If you have lupus, Social Security disability benefits may be available. To determine whether you are disabled by lupus, the Social Security Administration first considers whether your lupus is severe enough to meet or equal a listing at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. See How to Get Disability Benefits for Lupus by Meeting a Listing. If you meet or equal a listing because of lupus, you are considered disabled. If your lupus is not severe enough to equal or meet a listing, the Social Security Administration must assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) (the work you can still do, despite your lupus), to determine whether you qualify for disability benefits at Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. See Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Lupus.

About Lupus and Disability

What Is Lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect any organ or body system. It is frequently accompanied by severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and weight loss. SLE is much more common in women, who account for 85% to 90% of the cases.
SLE is a multisystem disease. The immune response against the body’s own tissues can affect any organ, with joint, muscle, ocular, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, renal, hematologic, skin, neurological, or mental involvement.

Cause of Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. Its cause is not well understood, but it does have a genetic component. Numerous “lupus genes” that influence the probability of developing lupus have been identified. SLE probably appears when a person has a particular combination of genes. Due to the complexity of the disease, a cure for SLE is not likely in the near future.

Severity of Lupus

SLE is unpredictable; it is characterized by exacerbations and improvements. It may follow a benign course and be highly responsive to medication, or it may take a sudden severe course leading to early death despite therapy. Any combination of organ systems can be involved in a particular individual, in any degree of severity.

Effects of Lupus

Lupus may result in:
  • Inflammatory arthritis in the joints.
  • Muscle inflammation, pain and weakness.
  • Inflammation of the eye (uveitis), resulting in pain and blurry vision.
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems such as pleuritis, pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs (lupus pneumonitis), and bronchiectasis.
  • Heart problems, such as arrhythmias, murmurs, endocarditis, and cardiomyopathy with heart failure.
  • Digestive problems such as abnormal contractions of the esophagus (dysmotility) or inflammation of arteries (vasculitis) supplying organs of the gastrointestinal system, resulting in pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain, ulcers, weight loss, or death of intestinal tissue (intestinal infarction) requiring surgical intervention.
  • Kidney problems such as chronic renal failure, which is a common cause of death in SLE.
  • Blood (hematologic) problems which can result in decreased platelets, decreased white cells, or decreased red cells (anemia). Decreased platelets increase susceptibility to bleeding. Decreased white cells increase susceptibility to infection. Anemia results in easy fatigability and weakness.
  • Skin problems leading to scarring, and the need to avoid direct sunlight (photosensitivity).
  • Nervous system involvement resulting in inflammation of the central nervous system—spinal cord and brain.
  • Mental disorders (e.g., psychosis, depression, and organic brain syndrome), which arises from nervous system inflammation.
  • Arterial inflammation (vasculitis) resulting in impaired blood flow to various organs. Impaired blood flow to the hands and feet can decrease tolerance to cold.
Additional possible abnormalities that may be associated with SLE include:
  • Muscle aches (myalgia).
  • Joint pain (arthralgia).
  • Hair loss (alopecia).
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly).
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly).
  • Sensitivity to cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon).
  • Hypertension.

Diagnostic Criteria Required by the Social Security Administration

There are no universally agreed-upon criteria for making a diagnosis of SLE. The table below shows the diagnostic criteria required by the Social Security Administration.
Diagnostic criteria required by the Social Security Administration
Diagnostic criteria required by the Social Security Administration

Treatment for Lupus

Since SLE is incurable, treatment is based on drug therapy that will control symptoms and progression of the disease. Kidney failure is a major cause of death and kidney function must be closely monitored.
Therapy for lupus is based on suppressing the immune system. Systemic corticostroid drugs like prednisone can be highly effective, but their use is limited by potential side-effects (e.g., hypertension, obesity, poor wound healing, osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, cataracts). Methotrexate is another immunosuppressive drug that is useful in treating SLE. The anti-malarial drug plaquenil is often capable of keeping SLE under control.
Specific medications may be required for particular problems like hypertension, depression, and skin lesions.
Every case is different. Some people respond rapidly to maintenance therapy with plaquenil and have minimal symptoms. Others are not so fortunate.
Continue to How to Get Disability Benefits for Lupus by Meeting a Listing.




Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic

http://www.mdguidelines.com/lupus-erythematosus-systemic 

Specialists



  • Cardiovascular Internist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Dermatologist
  • Nephrologist
  • Neurologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Rheumatologis







Factors Influencing Duration







Length of disability depends on the severity of symptoms, the organs involved, and response to treatment. Treatment, particularly prolonged corticosteroid therapy, may produce side effects that can cause disability.

Medical Codes


ICD-9-CM: 710.0, 710.9

Definition


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is an ongoing (chronic) inflammatory connective tissue disease in which the body's immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy tissue (autoimmune disease). SLE is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can inflame and damage the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, nervous system, and mucous membranes. It is characterized by various symptoms, including skin rash (discoid rash, malar rash), hair loss (alopecia), joint pain and swelling, confusion and cognitive dysfunction, seizure disorders, heart and lung disorders, and kidney dysfunction (glomerulonephritis or lupus nephritis). Symptoms fluctuate and may lessen or disappear periodically without explanation (spontaneous remissions) and then suddenly return or flare (relapses).


The cause of lupus is not known, but research has shown that the autoimmune process in lupus involves a complex interaction between certain genes that increase susceptibility for the disease, hormonal factors, and environmental factors (e.g., ultraviolet light). Tissue damage begins when the immune system fails to recognize "self" cells in the body and activates specialized white cells (T cell and B cells) and a wide range of autoantibodies that attack self cells as though they were foreign. The number and variety of autoantibodies that appear in lupus determine what symptoms will develop, although the level of antibodies is not always proportional to an individual's symptoms. However, high levels of antibodies against C-reactive protein (anti-CRP autoantibodies) are found to correlate with estimations of disease activity (Sjowali).


Skin eruptions, particularly the classic "butterfly" rash (malar rash) across the nose and cheeks, but also other skin lesions (discoid rash), appear in about 80% of lupus patients (Hahn 661). Discoid lupus refers to lupus that only affects the skin (acute, subacute, or chronic cutaneous lupus), producing atrophic skin lesions without systemic disease. Skin manifestations may only affect the head and neck, but if widespread cutaneous disease is present, systemic symptoms are more likely to appear.


Neuropsychiatric lupus is the term applied to central and peripheral nervous system involvement in some individuals diagnosed with SLE. Symptoms may include headache, mood disorders, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, movement disorders, and cerebrovascular disease including transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or stroke. Other heart and brain conditions such as hemorrhage, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, tumor, or vascular conditions must be ruled out before this diagnosis applies.


Individuals using certain medications may develop a lupus-like syndrome called subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE), a systemic form of lupus with non-scarring symmetric skin lesions on the neck, both arms, and upper trunk. The drugs most frequently responsible are those used to treat high blood pressure (antihypertensives), the antifungal agent terbinafine, and tumor necrosis factor antagonists. Symptoms of drug-induced lupus are generally milder and resolve when the drug is discontinued.
Risk: Risk factors include sex, race, heredity, and exposure to certain medications or viruses. Sex hormones appear to play some role because most cases in women who develop lupus do so during the peak-hormone production of childbearing years. The use of hormone replacement therapy in menopausal women has also been associated with the onset of lupus and flares (Bartels). Men who have the sex chromosome disorder called Klinefelter or XXY syndrome, in which there is hormone imbalance, also are at greater risk than men without the disease (Bartels). In the US, black women appear to be at increased risk of developing lupus. Family members of affected individuals may also be at increased risk. Lupus is diagnosed most frequently in young women in their late teens to 30s, but the disease can also affect children, older women, and men; men can be affected at any age (Bartels). Drug-induced lupus affects men and women equally.


Incidence and Prevalence: About 239,000 people in the US have either certain or suspected SLE; prevalence is 50 to 100 cases per 100,000 population (Greenspun). Prevalence measured in the white population is 40 per 100,000 and increases to 100 in 100,000 in black and Hispanic populations (Bartels). On average, about 10 in 100,000 population in the US are diagnosed with lupus every year.





Diagnosis


History: The severity of symptoms varies in different individuals and within the same individual over time. Early symptoms may include joint or muscle pain, fever, or migraine-type headaches. Individuals also may report loss of appetite (anorexia), abdominal pain, swollen glands, sensitivity to cold in the fingers, toes, nose, and ears (Raynaud's phenomenon), confusion, feelings of stress, anxiety, weight loss or gain, or a general feeling of ill health (malaise). Visual disturbances may occur, including over-sensitivity to light (photophobia) or blurred vision. The individual may feel pain when taking deep breaths. Most individuals will complain of a skin rash at some time, particularly after exposure to sunlight. Some individuals will report a facial rash as their only diagnostic clue.


Physical exam: The hallmark sign of SLE is the characteristic red, blotchy, butterfly-shaped rash over the cheeks and bridge of the nose. Individuals with SLE also may present with ulcers in the mouth, hair loss, and red, swollen, painful joints. If more systems are involved, signs are related to inflammation in the involved organs. Common findings include inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleurisy) and the membrane surrounding the heart (pericarditis). Scattered abdominal tenderness may be due to inflammation of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity that is not related to infection (sterile peritonitis). High blood pressure (hypertension) and ankle swelling (peripheral edema) are the most common indications of kidney involvement (renal disease).


Tests: No one test can determine a diagnosis of lupus, but a combination of laboratory tests can help confirm the diagnosis. Inflammation levels may be determined by elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). A complete blood cell count (CBC) may reveal either an elevated or reduced white blood cell (WBC) count, reduced platelet count (thrombocytopenia), or possibly anemia, which in SLE may be caused by chronic inflammation, renal disease, or destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis). Increased blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine may indicate kidney involvement. Urinalysis may reveal the presence of red blood cells (RBC) and abnormal sediment, also suggesting kidney involvement; tests on a 24-hour urine sample may confirm kidney dysfunction. Blood tests used to detect specific antibodies include tests for ANA (antinuclear antibodies), anti-DNA, anti-Sm, and anti-C-reactive protein. Complement levels (C3 and C4) are sometimes reduced in active SLE because of inflammation-producing immune complexes. Removal of skin tissue for microscopic examination (skin biopsy) also can detect antibodies that are present when the disease is active.


X-rays of painful joints are not always useful in SLE, but may reveal osteopenia and tissue swelling. Muscle testing by electromyography (EMG) and microscopic examination of fluid withdrawn from the joints (synovial fluid) may be done to rule out other connective tissue diseases. Lumbar puncture may be done to evaluate possible infection if fever or neurologic symptoms are present. Spinal fluid may be aspirated and examined for cell count, protein level, and glucose levels if neuropsychiatric lupus is suspected. Chest x-rays may be taken to detect lung damage or dysfunction, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) can detect heart problems such as pericarditis or endocarditis. Brain CT or MRI can be used to evaluate central nervous system (CNS) involvement such as white matter abnormalities, vasculitis, or stroke.





Treatment


There is no cure for SLE. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. Treatment depends on which organs are affected and whether lupus is mild or severe. Mild lupus may not require treatment. Any drug that may have triggered lupus must be withdrawn or its dosage reduced. Individuals whose symptoms are made worse by sunlight are advised to avoid exposure to sunlight and to use sunscreen. Skin rashes often can be effectively treated with antimalarial drugs, which are also indicated for disease-related fever or pleurisy. Inflammation of the joints (lupus arthritis) is treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs, antimalarial drugs, and sometimes with immunosuppressants. Disease-related muscle inflammation (lupus myositis) can be treated with short-term corticosteroids and an effective exercise program. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed for treatment of neurological symptoms, kidney disease, or severe cases of lupus. Anticancer (cytotoxic) drugs usually are reserved for serious systemic involvement, especially when corticosteroids are ineffective. If the kidneys fail, mechanical support (dialysis) may be required. Psychological needs must be addressed through counseling or other support.





ACOEM


ACOEM's Practice Guidelines, the gold standard in effective medical treatment of occupational injuries and illnesses, are provided in this section to complement the disability duration guidelines.*



* The relationship between the MDGuidelines (MDA) content and ACOEM's guidelines is approximate and does not always link identical diagnoses. The user should consult the diagnostic codes in both guidelines, as well as the clinical descriptions, before assuming an equivalence.

Source: ACOEM Practice Guidelines




Prognosis


Because the course of lupus is unpredictable, the prognosis can vary from relatively inactive disease to progressively more active to fatal. The prognosis for individuals with SLE has improved over the past two decades. The 10-year survival rate exceeds 90% (Bartels). Females with disease onset after age 60 have the most favorable prognosis, although onset after age 50 is rare (Greenspun). Children with SLE have the least favorable prognosis. About one-third of deaths due to SLE are found in individuals younger than age 45, with deaths occurring 5 to 10 years after symptom onset (Bartels). About half of all individuals with lupus experience kidney involvement, which can lead to life-threatening conditions (Bartels). Discoid lupus is not life threatening, but may have pronounced psychosocial and emotional effects (Bartels). Factors aiding this improved prognosis include an earlier, more accurate diagnosis, faster and more effective treatment, availability of dialysis for treatment of kidney failure, and more availability of antibiotics effective in treating infectious complications. In most individuals, the illness pursues a mild, ongoing (chronic) course, occasionally interrupted by relapses of disease activity. For many, the disease will affect only a few organs.





Complications


Possible complications include serious impairment of vital organs such as the lungs, heart, brain, or kidneys. Infections that occur due to a compromised immune system (opportunistic infections) are a leading cause of death. Treatment with antimalarial drugs can damage the light sensitive tissue of the back inner portion of the eye (retina). Corticosteroid treatment may cause facial swelling and high blood pressure (hypertension). Other infections such as colds, influenza, or meningitis may worsen symptoms. Some lupus patients may develop other diseases such as scleroderma or Raynaud's phenomenon (Hahn).





Return to Work (Restrictions / Accommodations)


Restrictions and accommodations are determined by the severity of symptoms and the particular organ or organ system involved. Flexibility and adaptability are necessary because cycles of remission and relapse may hamper the individual's ability to continue long-term tasks. Individuals with lupus may require protection from sunlight provided by sunscreens and protective clothing such as hats. Arthritic symptoms such as joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness may limit tasks requiring manual dexterity or limit standing or sitting for long periods. Certain duties may need to be reassigned and mechanical accommodations such as modifying a workstation or use of special tools or equipment may be needed. Company policy on medication usage should be reviewed to determine if medication to control the symptoms of lupus is compatible with job safety and function.





Failure to Recover



If an individual fails to recover within the expected maximum duration period, the reader may wish to consider the following questions to better understand the specifics of an individual's medical case.Regarding diagnosis:
  • Did individual present with symptoms such as skin rash or lesions, headache, general malaise, fatigue, joint aches and pains, loss of appetite, abdominal pain; swollen glands, sensitivity to cold in the fingers, toes, nose, and ears, confusion, feelings of stress and anxiety, weight loss, or visual disturbances?
  • Has diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) been confirmed?
  • If diagnosis is uncertain, how have other conditions with similar symptoms been ruled out?
  • Is there a family history of SLE or other connective tissue disorders?
  • Does individual report spontaneous remissions and relapses?

Regarding treatment:
  • Has treatment been aimed at reducing inflammation and relieving symptoms?
  • If symptoms are made worse by sunlight, is individual avoiding exposure to sunlight? Does individual use sunscreen?
  • If a drug triggered the condition, has that drug been withdrawn? Can another drug be substituted?
  • Have antimalarial drugs been effective against skin rash?
  • Was an appropriate exercise program recommended? Is individual complying with exercise plan?
  • If corticosteroids were ineffective against a serious systemic involvement, is use of cytotoxic or immunosuppressive drugs indicated?
  • Has individual experienced kidney failure? If dialysis was necessary, are kidneys functional again?
  • Are individual's psychological needs being met through counseling or other support?

Regarding prognosis:
  • If symptoms persist despite treatment, does diagnosis need to be revisited?
  • Does individual have access to factors indicating an improved prognosis, such as faster and more effective treatment, availability of dialysis for treatment of kidney failure, and more availability of antibiotics effective in treating infectious complications?
  • Does individual have a comorbid condition such as kidney disease, hepatitis, or multiple sclerosis that may complicate treatment and affect recovery?
  • Has individual experienced complications such as impairment of vital organs (lungs, heart, brain, or kidneys), opportunistic infections, retinal damage, or hypertension that may affect recovery?
  • Have cognitive or central nervous system manifestations affected individual’s ability to function?
  • Can employer adjust job responsibilities to accommodate cycles of remissions and relapses?





References



Cited

Bartels, Christie M., and Daniel Muller. "Systemic Lupus Erythematosus." eMedicine. Eds. Carlos J. Lozada, et al. 22 Jan. 2009. Medscape. 20 Jul. 2009 <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332244-overview>.Greenspun, Bertram. "Systemic Lupus Erythematosus." eMedicine. Eds. Martin K. Childers, et al. 23 Apr. 2009. Medscape. 21 Jul. 2009 <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/305578-overview>.
Hahn, Bevrah, and Betty P. Tsao. "Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Related Syndromes." Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. Eds. Edward Harris, et al. 7th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 2004. MD Consult. Elsevier, Inc. 21 Jul. 2009 <http://mdconsult.com>.
Sjowali, Christopher, et al. "Serum Levels of Autoantibodies Against Monomeric C-Reactive Protein Are Correlated with Disease Activity in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus." Arthritis Research & Therapy 6 2 (2004): 87-94. Medscape Today. Medscape. 21 Jul. 2009 <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/466990>.



 www.allsup.com
Allsup can help you get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and win your disability appeal. Call 800.279.4357 for a disability evaluation.


Medical/Professional Relations



Adult Listings (Part A)



Childhood Listings (Part B)



General Information


Disability Evaluation Under Social Security
(Blue Book- October 2008)

14.00 Immune System Disorders - Adult
 

Section 14.00 Immune System Disorders
A. What disorders do we evaluate under the immune system disorders listings?
1. We evaluate immune system disorders that cause dysfunction in one or more components of your immune system.
a. The dysfunction may be due to problems in antibody production, impaired cell mediated immunity, a combined type of antibody/cellular deficiency, impaired phagocytes, or complement deficiency.
b. Immune system disorders may result in recurrent and unusual infections, or inflammation and dysfunction of the body’s own tissues. Immune system disorders can cause a deficit in a single organ or body system that results in extreme (that is, very serious) loss of function. They can also cause lesser degrees of limitations in two or more organs or body systems, and when associated with symptoms or signs, such as severe fatigue, fever, malaise, diffuse musculoskeletal pain, or involuntary weight loss, can also result in extreme limitation.
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c. We organize the discussions of immune system disorders in three categories: Autoimmune disorders; Immune deficiency disorders, excluding human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; and HIV infection.
2. Autoimmune disorders (14.00D).Autoimmune disorders are caused by dysfunctional immune responses directed against the body’s own tissues, resulting in chronic, multisystem impairments that differ in clinical manifestations, course, and outcome. They are sometimes referred to as rheumatic diseases, connective tissue disorders, or collagen vascular disorders. Some of the features of autoimmune disorders in adults differ from the features of the same disorders in children.
3. Immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection (14.00E).Immune deficiency disorders are characterized by recurrent or unusual infections that respond poorly to treatment, and are often associated with complications affecting other parts of the body. Immune deficiency disorders are classified as either primary (congenital) or acquired. Individuals with immune deficiency disorders also have an increased risk of malignancies and of having autoimmune disorders.
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4. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (14.00F).HIV infection may be characterized by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections, cancers, or other conditions, as described in 14.08.
B. What information do we need to show that you have an immune system disorder? Generally, we need your medical history, a report(s) of a physical examination, a report(s) of laboratory findings, and in some instances, appropriate medically acceptable imaging or tissue biopsy reports to show that you have an immune system disorder. Therefore, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain your medical history, medical findings, and results of laboratory tests. We explain the information we need in more detail in the sections below.
C. Definitions
1. Appropriate medically acceptable imaging includes, but is not limited to, angiography, x-ray imaging, computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with or without contrast material, myelography, and radionuclear bone scans. “Appropriate” means that the technique used is the proper one to support the evaluation and diagnosis of the impairment.
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2. Constitutional symptoms or signs, as used in these listings, means severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss. Severe fatigue means a frequent sense of exhaustion that results in significantly reduced physical activity or mental function. Malaise means frequent feelings of illness, bodily discomfort, or lack of well-being that result in significantly reduced physical activity or mental function.
3. Disseminated means that a condition is spread over a considerable area. The type and extent of the spread will depend on your specific disease.
4. Dysfunction means that one or more of the body regulatory mechanisms are impaired, causing either an excess or deficiency of immunocompetent cells or their products.
5. Extra-articular means “other than the joints”; for example, an organ(s) such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, or skin.
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6. Inability to ambulate effectively has the same meaning as in 1.00B2b.
7. Inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively has the same meaning as in 1.00B2c.
8. Major peripheral joints has the same meaning as in 1.00F.
9. Persistent means that a sign(s) or symptom(s) has continued over time. The precise meaning will depend on the specific immune system disorder, the usual course of the disorder, and the other circumstances of your clinical course.
10. Recurrent means that a condition that previously responded adequately to an appropriate course of treatment returns after a period of remission or regression. The precise meaning, such as the extent of response or remission and the time periods involved, will depend on the specific disease or condition you have, the body system affected, the usual course of the disorder and its treatment, and the other facts of your particular case.
11. Resistant to treatment means that a condition did not respond adequately to an appropriate course of treatment. Whether a response is adequate or a course of treatment is appropriate will depend on the specific disease or condition you have, the body system affected, the usual course of the disorder and its treatment, and the other facts of your particular case.
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12. Severe means medical severity as used by the medical community. The term does not have the same meaning as it does when we use it in connection with a finding at the second step of the sequential evaluation processes in §§404.1520, 416.920, and 416.924.
D. How do we document and evaluate the listed autoimmune disorders?
1. Systemic lupus erythematosus (14.02).
a. General.Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect any organ or body system. It is frequently, but not always, accompanied by constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, involuntary weight loss). Major organ or body system involvement can include: Respiratory (pleuritis, pneumonitis), cardiovascular (endocarditis, myocarditis, pericarditis, vasculitis), renal (glomerulonephritis), hematologic (anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia), skin (photosensitivity), neurologic (seizures), mental (anxiety, fluctuating cognition (“lupus fog”), mood disorders, organic brain syndrome, psychosis), or immune system disorders (inflammatory arthritis). Immunologically, there is an array of circulating serum autoantibodies and pro- and anti-coagulant proteins that may occur in a highly variable pattern.
b. Documentation of SLE.Generally, but not always, the medical evidence will show that your SLE satisfies the criteria in the current “Criteria for the Classification of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus” by the American College of Rheumatology found in the most recent edition of the Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases published by the Arthritis Foundation.
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2. Systemic vasculitis (14.03).
a. General.
(i) Vasculitis is an inflammation of blood vessels. It may occur acutely in association with adverse drug reactions, certain chronic infections, and occasionally, malignancies. More often, it is chronic and the cause is unknown. Symptoms vary depending on which blood vessels are involved. Systemic vasculitis may also be associated with other autoimmune disorders; for example, SLE or dermatomyositis.
(ii) There are several clinical patterns, including but not limited to polyarteritis nodosa, Takayasu’s arteritis (aortic arch arteritis), giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis), and Wegener’s granulomatosis.
b. Documentation of systemic vasculitis.Angiography or tissue biopsy confirms a diagnosis of systemic vasculitis when the disease is suspected clinically. When you have had angiography or tissue biopsy for systemic vasculitis, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain reports of the results of that procedure. However, we will not purchase angiography or tissue biopsy.
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3. Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) (14.04).
a. General.Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) constitutes a spectrum of disease in which thickening of the skin is the clinical hallmark. Raynaud’s phenomenon, often medically severe and progressive, is present frequently and may be the peripheral manifestation of a vasospastic abnormality in the heart, lungs, and kidneys. The CREST syndrome (calcinosis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly, and telangiectasia) is a variant that may slowly progress over years to the generalized process, systemic sclerosis.
b. Diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis.In diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (also known as diffuse scleroderma), major organ or systemic involvement can include the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, kidneys, and muscle in addition to skin or blood vessels. Although arthritis can occur, joint dysfunction results primarily from soft tissue/cutaneous thickening, fibrosis, and contractures.
c. Localized scleroderma (linear scleroderma and morphea).
(i) Localized scleroderma (linear scleroderma and morphea) is more common in children than in adults. However, this type of scleroderma can persist into adulthood. To assess the severity of the impairment, we need a description of the extent of involvement of linear scleroderma and the location of the lesions. For example, linear scleroderma involving the arm but not crossing any joints is not as functionally limiting as sclerodactyly (scleroderma localized to the fingers). Linear scleroderma of a lower extremity involving skin thickening and atrophy of underlying muscle or bone can result in contractures and leg length discrepancy. In such cases, we may evaluate your impairment under the musculoskeletal listings (1.00).
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(ii) When there is isolated morphea of the face causing facial disfigurement from unilateral hypoplasia of the mandible, maxilla, zygoma, or orbit, adjudication may be more appropriate under the criteria in the affected body system, such as special senses and speech (2.00) or mental disorders (12.00).
(iii) Chronic variants of these syndromes include disseminated morphea, Shulman’s disease (diffuse fasciitis with eosinophilia), and eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (often associated with toxins such as toxic oil or contaminated tryptophan), all of which can impose medically severe musculoskeletal dysfunction and may also lead to restrictive pulmonary disease. We evaluate these variants of the disease under the criteria in the musculoskeletal listings (1.00) or respiratory system listings (3.00).
d. Documentation of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).Documentation involves differentiating the clinical features of systemic clerosis (scleroderma) from other autoimmune disorders. However, there may be an overlap.
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4. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis (14.05).
a. General.Polymyositis and dermatomyositis are related disorders that are characterized by an inflammatory process in striated muscle, occurring alone or in association with other autoimmune disorders or malignancy. The most common manifestations are symmetric weakness, and less frequently, pain and tenderness of the proximal limb-girdle (shoulder or pelvic) musculature. There may also be involvement of the cervical, cricopharyngeal, esophageal, intercostal, and diaphragmatic muscles.
b. Documentation of polymyositis and dermatomyositis.Generally, but not always, polymyositis is associated with elevated serum muscle enzymes (creatine phosphokinase (CPK), aminotransferases, and aldolase), and characteristic abnormalities on electromyography and muscle biopsy. In dermatomyositis there are characteristic skin findings in addition to the findings of polymyositis. When you have had electromyography or muscle biopsy for polymyositis or dermatomyositis, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain reports of the results of that procedure. However, we will not purchase electromyography or muscle biopsy.
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c. Additional information about how we evaluate polymyositis and dermatomyositis under the listings.
(i) Weakness of your pelvic girdle muscles that results in your inability to rise independently from a squatting or sitting position or to climb stairs may be an indication that you are unable to ambulate effectively. Weakness of your shoulder girdle muscles may result in your inability to perform lifting, carrying, and reaching overhead, and also may seriously affect your ability to perform activities requiring fine movements. We evaluate these limitations under 14.05A.
(ii) We use the malignant neoplastic diseases listings (13.00) to evaluate malignancies associated with polymyositis or dermatomyositis. We evaluate the involvement of other organs/body systems under the criteria for the listings in the affected body system.
5. Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease (14.06).
a. General.This listing includes syndromes with clinical and immunologic features of several autoimmune disorders, but which do not satisfy the criteria for any of the specific disorders described. For example, you may have clinical features of SLE and systemic vasculitis, and the serologic (blood test) findings of rheumatoid arthritis.
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b. Documentation of undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease.Undifferentiated connective tissue disease is diagnosed when clinical features and serologic (blood test) findings, such as rheumatoid factor or antinuclear antibody (consistent with an autoimmune disorder) are present but do not satisfy the criteria for a specific disease. Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) is diagnosed when clinical features and serologic findings of two or more autoimmune diseases overlap.
6. Inflammatory arthritis (14.09).
a. General.The spectrum of inflammatory arthritis includes a vast array of disorders that differ in cause, course, and outcome. Clinically, inflammation of major peripheral joints may be the dominant manifestation causing difficulties with ambulation or fine and gross movements; there may be joint pain, swelling, and tenderness. The arthritis may affect other joints, or cause less limitation in ambulation or the performance of fine and gross movements. However, in combination with extra-articular features, including constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, involuntary weight loss), inflammatory arthritis may result in an extreme limitation.
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b. Inflammatory arthritis involving the axial spine (spondyloarthropathy).In adults, inflammatory arthritis involving the axial spine may be associated with disorders such as:
(i) Reiter’s syndrome;
(ii) Ankylosing spondylitis;
(iii) Psoriatic arthritis;
(iv) Whipple’s disease;
(v) Behçet’s disease; and
(vi) Inflammatory bowel disease.
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c. Inflammatory arthritis involving the peripheral joints.In adults, inflammatoryarthritis involving peripheral joints may beassociated with disorders such as:
(i) Rheumatoid arthritis;
(ii) Sjögren’s syndrome;
(iii) Psoriatic arthritis;
(iv) Crystal deposition disorders (gout andpseudogout);
(v) Lyme disease; and
(vi) Inflammatory bowel disease.
d. Documentation of inflammatory arthritis.Generally, but not always, thediagnosis of inflammatory arthritis is basedon the clinical features and serologic findingsdescribed in the most recent edition of the Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases publishedby the Arthritis Foundation.
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e. How we evaluate inflammatory arthritis under the listings.
(i) Listing-level severity in 14.09A and14.09C1 is shown by an impairment thatresults in an “extreme” (very serious)limitation. In 14.09A, the criterion is satisfiedwith persistent inflammation or deformity inone major peripheral weight-bearing jointresulting in the inability to ambulateeffectively (as defined in 14.00C6) or onemajor peripheral joint in each upperextremity resulting in the inability to performfine and gross movements effectively (asdefined in 14.00C7). In 14.09C1, if you havethe required ankylosis (fixation) of yourcervical or dorsolumbar spine, we will findthat you have an extreme limitation in yourability to see in front of you, above you, andto the side. Therefore, inability to ambulateeffectively is implicit in 14.09C1, eventhough you might not require bilateral upperlimb assistance.
(ii) Listing-level severity is shown in14.09B, 14.09C2, and 14.09D byinflammatory arthritis that involves variouscombinations of complications of one ormore major peripheral joints or other joints,such as inflammation or deformity, extraarticularfeatures, repeated manifestations,and constitutional symptoms or signs. Extraarticularimpairments may also meet listingsin other body systems.
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(iii) Extra-articular features ofinflammatory arthritis may involve any bodysystem; for example: Musculoskeletal (heelenthesopathy), ophthalmologic (iridocyclitis,keratoconjunctivitis sicca, uveitis),pulmonary (pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis ornodules, restrictive lung disease),cardiovascular (aortic valve insufficiency,arrhythmias, coronary arteritis, myocarditis,pericarditis, Raynaud’s phenomenon,systemic vasculitis), renal (amyloidosis of thekidney), hematologic (chronic anemia,thrombocytopenia), neurologic (peripheralneuropathy, radiculopathy, spinal cord orcauda equina compression with sensory and motor loss), mental (cognitive dysfunction, poor memory), and immune system (Felty’s syndrome (hypersplenism with compromised immune competence)).
(iv) If both inflammation and chronic deformities are present, we evaluate your impairment under the criteria of any appropriate listing.
7. Sjögren’s syndrome (14.10).
a. General.
(i) Sjögren’s syndrome is an immunomediated disorder of the exocrine glands. Involvement of the lacrimal and salivary glands is the hallmark feature, resulting in symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth, and possible complications, such as corneal damage, blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), dental caries, and the inability to speak for extended periods of time. Involvement of the exocrine glands of the upper airways may result in persistent dry cough.
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(ii) Many other organ systems may be involved, including musculoskeletal (arthritis, myositis), respiratory (interstitial fibrosis), gastrointestinal (dysmotility, dysphagia, involuntary weight loss), genitourinary (interstitial cystitis, renal tubular acidosis), skin (purpura, vasculitis), neurologic (central nervous system disorders, cranial and peripheral neuropathies), mental (cognitive dysfunction, poor memory), and neoplastic (lymphoma). Severe fatigue and malaise are frequently reported. Sjögren’s syndrome may be associated with other autoimmune disorders (for example, rheumatoid arthritis or SLE); usually the clinical features of the associated disorder predominate.
b. Documentation of Sjögren’s syndrome.If you have Sjögren’s syndrome, the medical evidence will generally, but not always, show that your disease satisfies the criteria in the current “Criteria for the Classification of Sjögren’s Syndrome” by the American College of Rheumatology found in the most recent edition of the Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases published by the Arthritis Foundation.
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E. How do we document and evaluate immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection?
1. General.
a. Immune deficiency disorders can be classified as:
(i) Primary (congenital); for example, Xlinked agammaglobulinemia, thymic hypoplasia (DiGeorge syndrome), severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), C1 esterase inhibitor deficiency.
(ii) Acquired; for example, medication related.
b. Primary immune deficiency disorders are seen mainly in children. However, recent advances in the treatment of these disorders have allowed many affected children to survive well into adulthood. Occasionally, these disorders are first diagnosed in adolescence or adulthood.
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2. Documentation of immune deficiency disorders.The medical evidence must include documentation of the specific type of immune deficiency. Documentation may be by laboratory evidence or by other generally acceptable methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice.
3. Immune deficiency disorders treated by stem cell transplantation.
a. Evaluation in the first 12 months.If you undergo stem cell transplantation for your immune deficiency disorder, we will consider you disabled until at least 12 months from the date of the transplant.
b. Evaluation after the 12-month period has elapsed.After the 12-month period has elapsed, we will consider any residuals of your immune deficiency disorder as well as any residual impairment(s) resulting from the treatment, such as complications arising from:
(i) Graft-versus-host (GVH) disease.
(ii) Immunosuppressant therapy, such as frequent infections.
(iii) Significant deterioration of other organ systems.
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4. Medication-induced immune suppression.Medication effects can result in varying degrees of immune suppression, but most resolve when the medication is ceased. However, if you are prescribed medication for long-term immune suppression, such as after an organ transplant, we will evaluate:
a. The frequency and severity of infections.
b. Residuals from the organ transplant itself, after the 12-month period has elapsed.
c. Significant deterioration of other organ systems.
F. How do we document and evaluate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection? Any individual with HIV infection, including one with a diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), may be found disabled under 14.08 if his or her impairment meets the criteria in that listing or is medically equivalent to the criteria in that listing.
1. Documentation of HIV infection.The medical evidence must include documentation of HIV infection. Documentation may be by laboratory evidence or by other generally acceptable methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice. When you have had laboratory testing for HIV infection, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain reports of the results of that testing. However, we will not purchase laboratory testing to establish whether you have HIV infection.
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a. Definitive documentation of HIV infection.A definitive diagnosis of HIV infection is documented by one or more of the following laboratory tests:
(i) HIV antibody tests. HIV antibodies are usually first detected by an ELISA screening test performed on serum. Because the ELISA can yield false positive results, confirmation is required using a more definitive test, such as a Western blot or an immunofluorescence assay.
(ii) Positive “viral load” (VL) tests. These tests are normally used to quantitate the amount of the virus present but also document HIV infection. Such tests include the quantitative plasma HIV RNA, quantitative plasma HIV branched DNA, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
(iii) HIV DNA detection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
(iv) A specimen that contains HIV antigen (for example, serum specimen, lymphocyte culture, or cerebrospinal fluid).
(v) A positive viral culture for HIV from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).
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(vi) Other tests that are highly specific for detection of HIV and that are consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge.
b. Other acceptable documentation of HIV infection. We may also document HIV infection without the definitive laboratory evidence described in 14.00F1a, provided that such documentation is consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice and is consistent with the other evidence in your case record. If no definitive laboratory evidence is available, we may document HIV infection by the medical history, clinical and laboratory findings, and diagnosis(es) indicated in the medical evidence. For example, we will accept a diagnosis of HIV infection without definitive laboratory evidence of the HIV infection if you have an opportunistic disease that is predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity (for example, toxoplasmosis of the brain, Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)), and there is no other known cause of diminished resistance to that disease (for example, long-term steroid treatment, lymphoma). In such cases, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain full details of the history, medical findings, and results of testing.
2. CD4 tests.Individuals who have HIV infection or other disorders of the immune system may have tests showing a reduction of either the absolute count or the percentage of their T-helper lymphocytes (CD4 cells). The extent of immune suppression correlates with the level or rate of decline of the CD4 count. Generally, when the CD4 count is below 200/mm3 (or below 14 percent of the total lymphocyte count) the susceptibility to opportunistic infection is greatly increased. Although a reduced CD4 count alone does not establish a definitive diagnosis of HIV infection, a CD4 count below 200 does offer supportive evidence when there are clinical findings, but not a definitive diagnosis of an opportunistic infection(s). However, a reduced CD4 count alone does not document the severity or functional consequences of HIV infection.
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3. Documentation of the manifestations of HIV infection.The medical evidence must also include documentation of the manifestations of HIV infection. Documentation may be by laboratory evidence or other generally acceptable methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice.

a. Definitive documentation of the manifestations of HIV infection. The definitive method of diagnosing opportunistic diseases or conditions that are manifestations of HIV infection is by culture, serologic test, or microscopic examination of biopsied tissue or other material (for example, bronchial washings). We will make every reasonable effort to obtain specific laboratory evidence of an opportunistic disease or other condition whenever this information is available. If a histologic or other test has been performed, the evidence should include a copy of the appropriate report. If we cannot obtain the report, the summary of hospitalization or a report from the treating source should include details of the findings and results of the diagnostic studies (including appropriate medically acceptable imaging studies) or microscopic examination of the appropriate tissues or body fluids.

b. Other acceptable documentation of the manifestations of HIV infection. We may also document manifestations of HIV infection without the definitive laboratory evidence described in 14.00F3a, provided that such documentation is consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice and is consistent with the other evidence in your case record. For example, many conditions are now commonly diagnosed based on some or all of the following: Medical history, clinical manifestations, laboratory findings (including appropriate medically acceptable imaging), and treatment responses. In such cases, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain full details of the history, medical findings, and results of testing. The following are examples of how we may document manifestations of HIV infection with other appropriate evidence.
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(i) Although a definitive diagnosis of PCP requires identifying the organism in bronchial washings, induced sputum, or lung biopsy, these tests are frequently bypassed if PCP can be diagnosed presumptively. Supportive evidence may include: Fever, dyspnea, hypoxia, CD4 count below 200, and no evidence of bacterial pneumonia. Also supportive are bilateral lung interstitial infiltrates on x-ray, a typical pattern on CAT scan, or a gallium scan positive for pulmonary uptake. Response to anti-PCP therapy usually requires 5-7 days, and such a response can be supportive of the diagnosis.
(ii) Documentation of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease (14.08D) may present special problems because definitive diagnosis (except for chorioretinitis, which may be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist on funduscopic examination) requires identification of viral inclusion bodies or a positive culture from the affected organ and the absence of any other infectious agent likely to be causing the disease. A positive serology test does not establish a definitive diagnosis of CMV disease, but does offer supportive evidence of a presumptive diagnosis of CMV disease. Other clinical findings that support a presumptive diagnosis of CMV may include: Fever, urinary culture positive for CMV, and CD4 count below 200. A clear response to anti-CMV therapy also supports a diagnosis.
(iii) A definitive diagnosis of toxoplasmosis of the brain is based on brain biopsy, but this procedure carries significant risk and is not commonly performed. This condition is usually diagnosed presumptively based on symptoms or signs of fever, headache, focal neurologic deficits, seizures, typical lesions on brain imaging, and a positive serology test.
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(iv) Candidiasis of the esophagus (also known as Candida esophagitis) may be presumptively diagnosed based on symptoms of retrosternal pain on swallowing (odynophagia) and either oropharyngeal thrush (white patches or plaques) diagnosed on physical examination or by microscopic documentation of Candida fungal elements from a noncultured specimen scraped from the oral mucosa. Treatment with oral (systemic) antifungal agents usually produces improvement after 5 or more days of therapy, and such a response can be supportive of the diagnosis.
4. HIV infection manifestations specific to women.
a. General. Most women with severe immunosuppression secondary to HIV infection exhibit the typical opportunistic infections and other conditions, such as PCP, Candida esophagitis, wasting syndrome, cryptococcosis, and toxoplasmosis. However, HIV infection may have different manifestations in women than in men. Adjudicators must carefully scrutinize the medical evidence and be alert to the variety of medical conditions specific to, or common in, women with HIV infection that may affect their ability to function in the workplace.
b. Additional considerations for evaluating HIV infection in women. Many of these manifestations (for example, vulvovaginal candidiasis, pelvic inflammatory disease) occur in women with or without HIV infection, but can be more severe or resistant to treatment, or occur more frequently in a woman whose immune system is suppressed. Therefore, when evaluating the claim of a woman with HIV infection, it is important to consider gynecologic and other problems specific to women, including any associated symptoms (for example, pelvic pain), in assessing the severity of the impairment and resulting functional limitations. We may evaluate manifestations of HIV infection in women under the specific criteria (for example, cervical cancer under 14.08E), under an applicable general category (for example, pelvic inflammatory disease under 14.08A4) or, in appropriate cases, under 14.08K.
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5. Involuntary weight loss. For purposes of 14.08H, an involuntary weight loss of at least 10 percent of baseline is always considered “significant.” Loss of less than 10 percent may or may not be significant, depending on the individual’s baseline weight and body habitus. For example, a 7-pound weight loss in a 100-pound woman who is 63 inches tall might be considered significant; but a 14-pound weight loss in a 200-pound woman who is the same height might not be significant. HIV infection that affects the digestive system and results in malnutrition can also be evaluated under 5.08.
G. How do we consider the effects of treatment in evaluating your autoimmune disorder, immune deficiency disorder, or HIV infection?
1. General.If your impairment does not otherwise meet the requirements of a listing, we will consider your medical treatment in terms of its effectiveness in improving the signs, symptoms, and laboratory abnormalities of your specific immune system disorder or its manifestations, and in terms of any side effects that limit your functioning. We will make every reasonable effort to obtain a specific description of the treatment you receive (including surgery) for your immune system disorder. We consider:
a. The effects of medications you take.
b. Adverse side effects (acute and chronic).
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c. The intrusiveness and complexity of your treatment (for example, the dosing schedule, need for injections).
d. The effect of treatment on your mental functioning (for example, cognitive changes, mood disturbance).
e. Variability of your response to treatment (see 14.00G2).
f. The interactive and cumulative effects of your treatments. For example, many individuals with immune system disorders receive treatment both for their immune system disorders and for the manifestations of the disorders or co-occurring impairments, such as treatment for HIV infection and hepatitis C. The interactive and cumulative effects of these treatments may be greater than the effects of each treatment considered separately.
g. The duration of your treatment.
h. Any other aspects of treatment that may interfere with your ability to function.
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2. Variability of your response to treatment.Your response to treatment and the adverse or beneficial consequences of your treatment may vary widely. The effects of your treatment may be temporary or long term. For example, some individuals may show an initial positive response to a drug or combination of drugs followed by a decrease in effectiveness. When we evaluate your response to treatment and how your treatment may affect you, we consider such factors as disease activity before treatment, requirements for changes in therapeutic regimens, the time required for therapeutic effectiveness of a particular drug or drugs, the limited number of drug combinations that may be available for your impairment(s), and the time-limited efficacy of some drugs. For example, an individual with HIV infection or another immune deficiency disorder who develops pneumonia or tuberculosis may not respond to the same antibiotic regimen used in treating individuals without HIV infection or another immune deficiency disorder, or may not respond to an antibiotic that he or she responded to before. Therefore, we must consider the effects of your treatment on an individual basis, including the effects of your treatment on your ability to function.
3. How we evaluate the effects of treatment for autoimmune disorders on your ability to function.Some medications may have acute or long-term side effects. When we consider the effects of corticosteroids or other treatments for autoimmune disorders on your ability to function, we consider the factors in 14.00G1 and 14.00G2. Long-term corticosteroid treatment can cause ischemic necrosis of bone, posterior subcapsular cataract, weight gain, glucose intolerance, increased susceptibility to infection, and osteoporosis that may result in a loss of function. In addition, medications used in the treatment of autoimmune disorders may also have effects on mental functioning, including cognition (for example, memory), concentration, and mood.
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4. How we evaluate the effects of treatment for immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection, on your ability to function.When we consider the effects of your treatment for your immune deficiency disorder on your ability to function, we consider the factors in 14.00G1 and 14.00G2. A frequent need for treatment such as intravenous immunoglobulin and gamma interferon therapy can be intrusive and interfere with your ability to work. We will also consider whether you have chronic side effects from these or other medications, including severe fatigue, fever, headaches, high blood pressure, joint swelling, muscle aches, nausea, shortness of breath, or limitations in mental function including cognition (for example, memory), concentration, and mood.
5. How we evaluate the effects of treatment for HIV infection on your ability to function.
a. General.When we consider the effects of antiretroviral drugs (including the effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)) and the effects of treatments for the manifestations of HIV infection on your ability to function, we consider the factors in 14.00G1 and 14.00G2. Side effects of antiretroviral drugs include, but are not limited to: Bone marrow suppression, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal intolerance (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), neuropathy, rash, hepatotoxicity, lipodystrophy (fat redistribution, such as “buffalo hump”), glucose intolerance, and lactic acidosis. In addition, medications used in the treatment of HIV infection may also have effects on mental functioning, including cognition (for example, memory), concentration, and mood, and may result in malaise, severe fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and insomnia. The symptoms of HIV infection and the side effects of medication may be indistinguishable from each other. We will consider all of your functional limitations, whether they result from your symptoms or signs of HIV infection or the side effects of your treatment.
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b. Structured treatment interruptions.A structured treatment interruption (STI, also called a “drug holiday”) is a treatment practice during which your treating source advises you to stop taking your medications temporarily. An STI in itself does not imply that your medical condition has improved; nor does it imply that you are noncompliant with your treatment because you are following your treating source’s advice. Therefore, if you have stopped taking medication because your treating source prescribed or recommended an STI, we will not find that you are failing to follow treatment or draw inferences about the severity of your impairment on this fact alone. We will consider why your treating source has prescribed or recommended an STI and all the other information in your case record when we determine the severity of your impairment.
6. When there is no record of ongoing treatment.If you have not received ongoing treatment or have not had an ongoing relationship with the medical community despite the existence of a severe impairment(s), we will evaluate the medical severity and duration of your immune system disorder on the basis of the current objective medical evidence and other evidence in your case record, taking into consideration your medical history, symptoms, clinical and laboratory findings, and medical source opinions. If you have just begun treatment and we cannot determine whether you are disabled based on the evidence we have, we may need to wait to determine the effect of the treatment on your ability to function. The amount of time we need to wait will depend on the facts of your case. If you have not received treatment, you may not be able to show an impairment that meets the criteria of one of the immune system disorders listings, but your immune system disorder may medically equal a listing or be disabling based on a consideration of your residual functional capacity, age, education, and work experience.
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H. How do we consider your symptoms, including your pain, severe fatigue, and malaise?Your symptoms, including pain, severe fatigue, and malaise, may be important factors in our determination whether your immune system disorder(s) meets or medically equals a listing or in our determination whether you are otherwise able to work. In order for us to consider your symptoms, you must have medical signs or laboratory findings showing the existence of a medically determinable impairment(s) that could reasonably be expected to produce the symptoms. If you have such an impairment(s), we will evaluate the intensity, persistence, and functional effects of your symptoms using the rules throughout 14.00 and in our other regulations. See §§404.1528, 404.1529, 416.928, and 416.929. Additionally, when we assess the credibility of your complaints about your symptoms and their functional effects, we will not draw any inferences from the fact that you do not receive treatment or that you are not following treatment without considering all of the relevant evidence in your case record, including any explanations you provide that may explain why you are not receiving or following treatment.
I. How do we use the functional criteria in these listings?
1. The following listings in this body system include standards for evaluating the functional limitations resulting from immune system disorders: 14.02B, for systemic lupus erythematosus; 14.03B, for systemic vasculitis; 14.04D, for systemic sclerosis (scleroderma); 14.05E, for polymyositis and dermatomyositis; 14.06B, for undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease; 14.07C, for immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection; 14.08K, for HIV infection; 14.09D, for inflammatory arthritis; and 14.10B, for Sjögren’s syndrome.
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2. When we use one of the listings cited in 14.00I1, we will consider all relevant information in your case record to determine the full impact of your immune system disorder on your ability to function on a sustained basis. Important factors we will consider when we evaluate your functioning under these listings include, but are not limited to: Your symptoms, the frequency and duration of manifestations of your immune system disorder, periods of exacerbation and remission, and the functional impact of your treatment, including the side effects of your medication.
 
3. As used in these listings, “repeated” means that the manifestations occur on an average of three times a year, or once every 4 months, each lasting 2 weeks or more; or the manifestations do not last for 2 weeks but occur substantially more frequently than three times in a year or once every 4 months; or they occur less frequently than an average of three times a year or once every 4 months but last substantially longer than 2 weeks. Your impairment will satisfy this criterion regardless of whether you have the same kind of manifestation repeatedly, all different manifestations, or any other combination of manifestations; for example, two of the same kind of manifestation and a different one. You must have the required number of manifestations with the frequency and duration required in this section. Also, the manifestations must occur within the period covered by your claim.

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4. To satisfy the functional criterion in a listing, your immune system disorder must result in a “marked” level of limitation in one of three general areas of functioning: Activities of daily living, social functioning, or difficulties in completing tasks due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace. Functional limitation may result from the impact of the disease process itself on your mental functioning, physical functioning, or both your mental and physical functioning. This could result from persistent or intermittent symptoms, such as depression, severe fatigue, or pain, resulting in a limitation of your ability to do a task, to concentrate, to persevere at a task, or to perform the task at an acceptable rate of speed. You may also have limitations because of your treatment and its side effects (see 14.00G).

5. When “marked” is used as a standard for measuring the degree of functional limitation, it means more than moderate but less than extreme. We do not define “marked” by a specific number of different activities of daily living in which your functioning is impaired, different behaviors in which your social functioning is impaired, or tasks that you are able to complete, but by the nature and overall degree of interference with your functioning. You may have a marked limitation when several activities or functions are impaired, or even when only one is impaired. Also, you need not be totally precluded from performing an activity to have a marked limitation, as long as the degree of limitation seriously interferes with your ability to function independently, appropriately, and effectively. The term “marked” does not imply that you must be confined to bed, hospitalized, or in a nursing home.
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6. Activities of daily living include, but are not limited to, such activities as doing household chores, grooming and hygiene, using a post office, taking public transportation, or paying bills. We will find that you have a “marked” limitation of activities of daily living if you have a serious limitation in your ability to maintain a household or take public transportation because of symptoms, such as pain, severe fatigue, anxiety, or difficulty concentrating, caused by your immune system disorder (including manifestations of the disorder) or its treatment, even if you are able to perform some self-care activities.
 
7. Social functioning includes the capacity to interact independently, appropriately, effectively, and on a sustained basis with others. It includes the ability to communicate effectively with others. We will find that you have a “marked” limitation in maintaining social functioning if you have a serious limitation in social interaction on a sustained basis because of symptoms, such as pain, severe fatigue, anxiety, or difficulty concentrating, or a pattern of exacerbation and remission, caused by your immune system disorder (including manifestations of the disorder) or its treatment, even if you are able to communicate with close friends or relatives.
 
8. Completing tasks in a timely manner involves the ability to sustain concentration, persistence, or pace to permit timely completion of tasks commonly found in work settings. We will find that you have a “marked” limitation in completing tasks if you have a serious limitation in your ability to sustain concentration or pace adequate to complete work-related tasks because of symptoms, such as pain, severe fatigue, anxiety, or difficulty concentrating, caused by your immune system disorder (including manifestations of the disorder) or its treatment, even if you are able to do some routine activities of daily living.

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J. How do we evaluate your immune system disorder when it does not meet one of these listings?
1. These listings are only examples of immune system disorders that we consider severe enough to prevent you from doing any gainful activity. If your impairment(s) does not meet the criteria of any of these listings, we must also consider whether you have an impairment(s) that satisfies the criteria of a listing in another body system.
2. Individuals with immune system disorders, including HIV infection, may manifest signs or symptoms of a mental impairment or of another physical impairment. We may evaluate these impairments under any affected body system. For example, we will evaluate:
a. Musculoskeletal involvement, such as surgical reconstruction of a joint, under 1.00.
b. Ocular involvement, such as dry eye, under 2.00.
c. Respiratory impairments, such as pleuritis, under 3.00.
d. Cardiovascular impairments, such as cardiomyopathy, under 4.00.
e. Digestive impairments, such as hepatitis (including hepatitis C) or weight loss as a result of HIV infection that affects the digestive system, under 5.00.
f. Genitourinary impairments, such as nephropathy, under 6.00.
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g. Hematologic abnormalities, such as anemia, granulocytopenia, and thrombocytopenia, under 7.00.

h. Skin impairments, such as persistent fungal and other infectious skin eruptions, and photosensitivity, under 8.00.
i. Neurologic impairments, such as neuropathy or seizures, under 11.00.
j. Mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or cognitive deficits, under 12.00.
k. Allergic disorders, such as asthma or atopic dermatitis, under 3.00 or 8.00 or under the criteria in another affected body system.
l. Syphilis or neurosyphilis under the criteria for the affected body system; for example, 2.00 Special senses and speech, 4.00 Cardiovascular system, or 11.00 Neurological.
3. If you have a severe medically determinable impairment(s) that does not meet a listing, we will determine whether your impairment(s) medically equals a listing. (See §§404.1526 and 416.926.) If it does not, you may or may not have the residual functional capacity to engage in substantial gainful activity. Therefore, we proceed to the fourth, and if necessary, the fifth steps of the sequential evaluation process in §§404.1520 and 416.920. We use the rules in §§404.1594, 416.994, and 416.994a as appropriate, when we decide whether you continue to be disabled.
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14.01  Category of Impairments, Immune System Disorders
14.02  Systemic lupus erythematosus. As described in 14.00D1. With:
A. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems, with:
1. One of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
OR
B. Repeated manifestations of SLE, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.03  Systemic vasculitis.As described in 14.00D2. With:
A. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems, with:
1. One of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
OR
B. Repeated manifestations of systemic vasculitis, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.04  Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).As described in 14.00D3. With:
A. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems, with:
1. One of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
OR
B. With one of the following:
1. Toe contractures or fixed deformity of one or both feet, resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively as defined in 14.00C6; or
2. Finger contractures or fixed deformity in both hands, resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively as defined in 14.00C7; or
3. Atrophy with irreversible damage in one of both lower extremities, resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively as defined in 14.00C6; or
4. Atrophy with irreversible damage in both upper extremities, resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively as defined in 14.00C7.
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OR
C. Raynaud’s phenomenon, characterized by:
1. Gangrene involving at least two extremities; or
2. Ischemia with ulcerations of toes or fingers, resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively or to perform fine and gross movements effectively as defined in 14.00C6 and 14.00C7.
OR
D. Repeated manifestations of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.05  Polymyositis and dermatomyositis.As described in 14.00D4. With:
A. Proximal limb‑girdle (pelvic or shoulder) muscle weakness, resulting in inability to ambulate effectively or inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively as defined in 14.00C6 and 14.00C7.
OR
B. Impaired swallowing (dysphagia) with aspiration due to muscle weakness.
OR
C. Impaired respiration due to intercostal and diaphragmatic muscle weakness.
OR
D. Diffuse calcinosis with limitation of joint mobility or intestinal motility.
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OR
E. Repeated manifestations of polymyositis or dermatomyositis, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.06  Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease.As described in 14.00D5. With:
A. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems, with:
1. One of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
OR
B. Repeated manifestations of undifferentiated or mixed connective disease, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.07  Immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection. As described in 14.00E. With:
A. One or more of the following infections. The infection(s) must either be resistant to treatment or require hospitalization or intravenous treatment three or more times in a 12-month period.
1. Sepsis; or
2. Meningitis; or
3. Pneumonia; or
4. Septic arthritis; or
5. Endocarditis; or
6. Sinusitis documented by appropriate medically acceptable imaging.
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OR
B. Stem cell transplantation as described under 14.00E3. Consider under a disability until at least 12 months from the date of transplantation. Thereafter, evaluate any residual impairment(s) under the criteria for the affected body system.
OR
C. Repeated manifestations of an immune deficiency disorder, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.08  Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.With documentation as described in 14.00F and one of the following:
A. Bacterial infections:
1. Mycobacterial infection (for example, caused by M. avium‑intracellulare, M. kansasii, or M. tuberculosis) at site other than the lungs, skin, or cervical or hilar lymph nodes, or pulmonary tuberculosis resistant to treatment; or
2. Nocardiosis; or
3. Salmonella bacteremia, recurrent non‑typhoid; or
4. Multiple or recurrent bacterial infections, including pelvic inflammatory disease, requiring hospitalization or intravenous antibiotic treatment three or more times in a 12-month period.
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OR
B. Fungal infections:
1. Aspergillosis; or
2. Candidiasis involving the esophagus, trachea, bronchi, or lungs, or at a site other than the skin, urinary tract, intestinal tract, or oral or vulvovaginal mucous membranes; or
3. Coccidioidomycosis, at a site other than the lungs or lymph nodes; or
4. Cryptococcosis, at a site other than the lungs (for example, cryptococcal meningitis); or
5. Histoplasmosis, at a site other than the lungs or lymph nodes; or
6. Mucormycosis; or
7. Pneumocystis pneumonia or extrapulmonary Pneumocystis infection.
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OR
C. Protozoan or helminthic infections:
1. Cryptosporidiosis, isosporiasis, or microsporidiosis, with diarrhea lasting for 1 month or longer; or
2. Strongyloidiasis, extra‑intestinal; or
3. Toxoplasmosis of an organ other than the liver, spleen, or lymph nodes.
OR
D. Viral infections:
1. Cytomegalovirus disease (documented as described in 14.00F3b(ii)) at a site other than the liver, spleen, or lymph nodes; or
2. Herpes simplex virus causing:
a. Mucocutaneous infection (for example, oral, genital, perianal) lasting for 1 month or longer; or
b. Infection at a site other than the skin or mucous membranes (for example, bronchitis, pneumonitis, esophagitis, or encephalitis); or
c. Disseminated infection; or
3. Herpes zoster:
a. Disseminated; or
b. With multidermatomal eruptions that are resistant to treatment; or
4. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
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OR
E. Malignant neoplasms:
1. Carcinoma of the cervix, invasive, FIGO stage II and beyond; or
2. Kaposi’s sarcoma with:
a. Extensive oral lesions; or
b. Involvement of the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, or other visceral organs; or
3. Lymphoma (for example, primary lymphoma of the brain, Burkitt’s lymphoma, immunoblastic sarcoma, other non‑Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease); or
4. Squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal or anal margin.
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OR
F. Conditions of the skin or mucous membranes (other than described in B2, D2, or D3, above), with extensive fungating or ulcerating lesions not responding to treatment (for example, dermatological conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, vulvovaginal or other mucosal Candida, condyloma caused by human Papillomavirus, genital ulcerative disease).
OR
G. HIV encephalopathy, characterized by cognitive or motor dysfunction that limits function and progresses.
OR
H. HIV wasting syndrome, characterized by involuntary weight loss of 10 percent or more of baseline (computed based on pounds, kilograms, or body mass index (BMI)) or other significant involuntary weight loss as described in 14.00F5, and in the absence of a concurrent illness that could explain the findings. With either:
1. Chronic diarrhea with two or more loose stools daily lasting for 1 month or longer; or
2. Chronic weakness and documented fever greater than 38°C (100.4°F) for the majority of 1 month or longer.
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OR
I. Diarrhea, lasting for 1 month or longer, resistant to treatment, and requiring intravenous hydration, intravenous alimentation, or tube feeding.
OR
J. One or more of the following infections (other than described in A-I above). The infection(s) must either be resistant to treatment or require hospitalization or intravenous treatment three of more times in a 12-month period.
1. Sepsis; or
2. Meningitis; or
3. Pneumonia; or
4. Septic arthritis; or
5. Endocarditis; or
6. Sinusitis documented by appropriate medically acceptable imaging.
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OR
K. Repeated (as defined in 14.00I3) manifestations of HIV infection, including those listed in 14.08A‑J, but without the requisite findings for those listings (for example, carcinoma of the cervix not meeting the criteria in 14.08E, diarrhea not meeting the criteria in 14.08I), or other manifestations (for example, oral hairy leukoplakia, myositis, pancreatitis, hepatitis, peripheral neuropathy, glucose intolerance, muscle weakness, cognitive or other mental limitation) resulting in significant, documented symptoms or signs (for example, severe fatigue, fever, malaise, involuntary weight loss, pain, night sweats, nausea, vomiting, headaches, or insomnia) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.09  Inflammatory arthritis. As described in 14.00D6. With:
A. Persistent inflammation or persistent deformity of:
1. One or more major peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively (as defined in 14.00C6); or
2. One or more major peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively (as defined in 14.00C7).
Or
B. Inflammation or deformity in one or more major peripheral joints with:
1. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved at least to a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
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OR
C. Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies, with:
1. Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 45° or more of flexion from the vertical position (zero degrees); or
2. Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 30° or more of flexion (but less than 45°) measured from the vertical position (zero degrees), and involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity.
OR
D. Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
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14.10  Sjögren’s syndrome. As described in 14.00D7. With:
A. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems, with:
1. One of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
OR
B. Repeated manifestations of Sjögren’s syndrome, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace. Back to Top
 


 

















 






2 comments:

  1. A two things to remember when applying for Disability:

    1) Make sure you are seeing a doctor on a regular bases, preferably a Rheumatologist. If you are not actively in treatment for you symptoms, you will probably be denied. Your general practitioner can probably refer you to a Rheumatologist.

    2) Hire an attorney, you DO NOT have to pay attorney fees unless you WIN your case. An attorney is a almost essential. Especially if you suffer from cognitive disorder and memory problems. They help keep you on track and organized.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shelli,

    I just found this comment on my post,sorry! Thank you for the addition this will be very helpful for those trying to get disability. Thank you for reading my blog and replying! xo

    ReplyDelete