Despite the fact that one of the most well-loved U.S. Presidents -- John F. Kennedy -- was afflicted with the condition, Addison's disease is still relatively unknown. A disorder of the endocrine system that causes adrenal insufficiency, it can often be successfully treated with a daily dose of steroids.
However, some people with Addison's disease suffer from uncontrolled symptoms or severe complications that are actually disabling. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to obtain approval for Social Security Disability benefits based on Addison's. If you find yourself needing to file a claim, here's what you need to know to give yourself a better shot at approval.
1. Work to educate the disability examination team.
Several people are involved in making the decision on your Social Security Disability application, including a doctor, but nobody on the team may know as much about Addison's disease as you do! To give yourself the best shot at an approval:
- Don't assume that the team understands what you experience based on your diagnosis alone. Spell out exactly how the disease affects you in as much detail as possible, with examples.
- Don't forget to include any other conditions you have that are likely related to Addison's as part of your disability.
For example, since adrenal insufficiency affects your ability to handles stress, you may experience chronic insomnia, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. All of those conditions will affect your ability to function normally and hold a job, so list any that you have in additions to Addison's as a disabling condition.
2. Focus on your chronic symptoms and explain how they limit you.
There are a number of ways that Addison's can complicate your life, including occasional acute attacks that can be lethal if you don't get immediate treatment. Those are rare, however, so you want to concentrate on the symptoms you struggle with on a constant basis. Also, you need to explain how each symptom imposes additional limits on your ability to work.
For example, you may experience things like:
- Constant spells of low blood pressure, which causes dizziness and fainting, making it dangerous for you to drive or work with any kind of dangerous equipment or tools.
- Chronic nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which makes it difficult for you to keep a routine of any kind.
- Pain in your stomach, back, and joints that makes it impossible to lift anything heavy, sit in one position for long, crouch, or bend over.
- Chronic exhaustion, which impairs your ability to think clearly, concentrate or remember instructions.
When you're living with a chronic condition like Addison's, it seems ridiculous that you'd have to explain how all your symptoms and related conditions interact to prevent you from working -- but that's exactly what you need to do if you want your Social Security Disability claim approved. When you file, explain everything as if you were talking to someone that had never heard of the disease -- instead of a medical professional who should be able to put the information together.
If you're having trouble working through your application or gaining approval, a Social Security Disability representative service may be able to assist you.