Sarcoidosis and SSDI
Sarcoidosis is often a hidden disease sometimes misdiagnosed as asthma or another
respiratory illness. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition which primarily affects the
lungs, but it can also affect the lymph nodes, skin, liver, kidney, spleen, or even the heart.
This condition typically affects the lymph glands in the chest and side of the chest and
results in scarring in the lungs which can result in severe respiratory ailments.
Frequently, patients don’t realize they have sarcoidosis until it is discovered after a chest
X-ray. Often, enlarged lymph glands are discovered in the chest prompting further
evaluation to discover the reason for the inflammation.
In sarcoidosis, granulomas, clusters of immune cells, form in certain organs of the body
and can cause organ dysfunction. Symptoms of sarcoidosis include chest discomfort,
shortness of breath, wheezing, enlarged lymph glands in the chest or possibly elsewhere,
such as around the neck.
No one knows the specific causes of the illness, though it does seem to have a tendency
to run in families. Scandinavians, as well as African American women between the ages
of 10 and 40, are the most common patients with sarcoidosis. Along with genetics, it is
believed there may be several causes, including environmental factors such as
inhalational agents or extreme immune responses to infections.
Treatment is based on the stage of the illness and breathing test results. The stage is
determined by X-rays and CT scans. Often, symptoms will improve on their own without
treatment. Treatment frequently includes steroids, most commonly prednisone, as well as
other medications. These treatments attempt to reduce inflammation, lung scarring and
the need for oxygen treatment. In advanced stages of the illness, some patients need an
The fatigue and chronic pain that some patients experience when living with sarcoidosis
can make working impossible. In these instances, there are disability programs to help.
While some people have few symptoms, others have severe symptoms which will likely
qualify them for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not
have a specific disability listing for sarcoidosis, but that does not mean that Social
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are out of the question.
Sarcoidosis can impact a number of different areas of the body, and the SSA will evaluate
an individual under the disability listing for the body organ that has been affected by the
disease. Along with demonstrating that symptoms are equal to criteria for another
impairment listing, claimants must also prove they are unable to work for at least 12
consecutive months due to the disabling effects of the symptoms of the disease. As
sarcoidosis advances, any gainful activity can become impossible and needs to be
reflected on the SSDI application.
Filing for SSDI benefits can be a challenge, but help is available from Social Security
disability representatives who specialize in Social Security benefits. Representatives can
answer your questions and walk you through the application and appeals process. They
will ensure that you have the complete medical documentation necessary to file your
claim, which will strengthen your case. With the guidance of an expert Social Security
disability representative, you increase your chances for success and typically reduce the
wait time in the SSDI process.