Social Security Disability SSI and Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is seen regularly on social security disability and SSI disability applications and can become (if not diagnosed soon enough, and if not treated properly) a fairly severe impairment. Despite these facts, however, you'd be hard pressed to find a disability examiner (remember: disability examiners are the individuals who "make decisions" on SSD and SSI claims for the social security administration) who could actually tell you what ankylosing spondylitis is.
So, what is ankylosing spondylitis? Well, it's a spondylarthropathy and an autoimmune disorder that causes stiffening of the spine and damage to various other joints. And, in severe cases, it can affect the eyes (iritis), causing the need for cortisone eye drops, the heart (inflammation of the aorta and damage to heart valves), and can also affect essential weight-bearing joints (in some cases, requiring total joint replacement). Ankylosing spondylitis can also impair one's breathing by limiting the ability of the ribcage to expand.
Ankylosing spondylitis, like other autoimmune problems, seems to involve a genetic basis; however, this seems to be more of an inherited predisposition to developing the condition versus the condition being directly passed on. And while the autoimmune disorder MS seems to affect three times as many women as men, ankylosing spondylitis seems to affect men predominantly, with the male to female ratio being close to 2 to 1.
The keys to limiting the severe effects of ankylosing spondylitis are 1. proper diagnosis and 2. proper treatment. When the condition is diagnosed and a medication regiment is set in place to tackle the inflammation that comes with ankylosing spondylitis, it can be held in check. However, the symptomology of ankylosing spondylitis is sometimes mistaken for the symptoms associated with other conditions, such as mechanical lower back strain.
If you take a hundred disability examiners who work on social security disability and SSI claims, sadly, nearly none will likely be able to tell you anything about ankylosing spondylitis. In fact, most would be very surprised and shocked to learn that the impairment they've seen on disability applications for several years can potentially have such limiting effects. And, to my mind, this, again, underscores the need for improved, and continuing training, for disability examiners.
Can you win a social security disability or ssi case if you have ankylosing spondylitis? Yes, and here's another stock answer again: if your condition prohibits or substantially limits your ability to work, you should consider filing an application for disability benefits. And you should do it as soon as possible. If you've already filed a claim, of course, and have been denied, you may want to seriously consider finding competent and qualified representation to maximize your chances of winning your case.
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