ERISA & Social Security Disability: Southern California Lawyers
Disability Benefits for Scleroderma or Systemic Sclerosis
Scleroderma literally means “hard skin,” but it's much more than that. While it often starts as tightness and thickening of the skin in the hands, scleroderma can spread throughout the body and invade the lungs, heart, kidneys, and the bowel. The term “systemic sclerosis” is often used when there is spread of scleroderma to other parts of the body.
The Diagnosis of Scleroderma
An experienced rheumatologist is often able to diagnose scleroderma just by looking at the skin, but sometimes a skin biopsy may be required to confirm the diagnosis. Laboratory tests may show a positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) and a positive Scl-70 antibody.
Other symptoms to look for in scleroderma include cold fingers or toes that turn white, blue or red (“Raynaud's phenomenon”), skin ulcerations at the tips of the fingers or toes (“digital ulcers”), swelling of the fingers, hands, and toes, arthritic joint pain, and muscle weakness of the upper arms and legs (“myopathy”).
There is a variant of scleroderma that is called Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD). It is an “overlap” condition that has some features of scleroderma, but it also has features of systemic lupus erythematosus and polymyositis. The anti-RNP antibody is commonly strongly positive in this disorder.
Documenting your limitations: How does your condition affect you? Be specific to articulate to your physician details of your physical limitations and how they impact you on a daily basis with regard to your daily living activities, your ability to stand/walk, lift/carry, and even sit for extended periods of time and need for breaks or rest from pain or fatigue. These are important factors and details regarding your functional capacity and important in evaluating whether you can perform your work or any work.