Sarcoidosis is a rare condition in which groups of immune cells form"granulomas", in various organs in the body, including the lungs. Although the cause of sarcoidosis is not known, inflammation, which may be triggered by infection or exposure to certain substances, is thought to play a role in the formation of granulomas.
Symptoms of Sarcoidosis (Lofgren's Syndrome)
The classic set of signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis, which has been called "Lofgren's Syndrome," includes fever, enlarged hiler lymph nodes in the chest, swollen and painful joints, and erythema nodosum (which is a vasculitic-type skin condition, often seen on the lower extremities).
Sarcoidosis can affect any organ. Most often it affects the lungs and lymph nodes in the chest. The symptoms of sarcoidosis are many and may include fatigue, weight loss, skin rashes, enlarged liver (hepatomegaly), enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), vision problems (iritis), dryness of the eyes (sicca symptoms), headaches, seizures, neurological problems (CNS sarcoid), arthritis, cardiac arrhythmia, heart disease, and kidney stones.
Treatment may be required, depending on the symptoms that you have, which organs are affected, and how well those organs are working. Medicines used to treat sarcoidosis help reduce inflammation or suppress the immune system. Some of these medications include prednisone, methotrexate, azathioprine (Imuran), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), and some of the "biologics," such as Enbrel or Remicade.
Many people recover from sarcoidosis with few or no long-term problems. Some people with sarcoidosis may not even require specific treatment. However, in others, the disease may be severe and chronic and may cause permanent scarring in the lungs or other organs. Shortness of breath, chest pain, and persistent cough may be present. When scarring happens in the lungs, this is called pulmonary fibrosis.
Getting Disability Benefits Related to Sarcoidosis
While there are many patients with sarcoidosis who are able to work, when sarcoidosis affects the vital organs, such as the lungs and heart, or when it produces severe constitutional symptoms, such as extreme tiredness or fatigue, then some patients may no longer be able to perform even sedentary work (a "desk job").
However, in some cases, even if you can do a "desk job," you may still qualify for long-term disability benefits if your educational level is less than what is required for a desk job, or you have impaired manual dexterity (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis) that precludes you from performing an unskilled sedentary occupation.
With sarcoidosis, it's important to find the right doctor who can properly diagnose your condition, document in the medical records your symptoms and the results of objective diagnostic testing (e.g., chest x-ray, CT scan, EKG, lab work), and explain in detail how your symptoms prevent you from performing your job or any other suitable occupation.
Because sarcoidosis may affect different parts of the body, your symptoms and your disability will depend on what parts of the body are affected by your condition. Pulmonary sarcoidosis may cause shortness of breath, fatigue, tiredness, and loss of stamina, which your doctor must document in your medical records, and may restrict your ability to walk/stand <2 hours, sit <6 hours, or lift/carry<10 lbs, and that level of functional imapirment may qualify you for disability benefits, because your work capacity would likely be deemend "less than sedentary."
If you have sarcoidosis-related arthritis that affects your hands and impairs your fine motor skills, you may still be deemed disabled even if you are able to do "sedentary" work, because most sedentary jobs require manual dexterity.
If you require medications to treat the sarcoidosis, they may cause side effects that may further affect your ability to work.
Essential Medical Documentation
SSA utilizes the term "Impairments" (and resulting "limitations" - why you cannot work) are the essential bits of information that must be clearly and consistently documented throughout your medical history by the treating sources (medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists).
SSA additionally utilizes the term "Residual Functional Capacity" (RFC); this is a key concept related to the resulting physical and/or mental impairments from conditions for which the disability claim is based upon and the impact upon ability to work.
SSA has its own forms that are used for Physical RFC here and for Mental RFC here. These forms can be filled out by the treating source who has the opportunity to examine the patient and understand the limitations which result from his/her condition and thereby document with specificity in the language of SSA disability.
SSA has its own forms that are used for Physical RFC here. These forms can be filled out by the treating source who has the opportunity to examine the patient and understand the limitations which result from his/her condition and thereby document with specificity in the language of SSA disability.
SSA "Listing" or "Blue Book" description of arthritis for disability benefits can be found here. (see 3.02)
Your disablity lawyer must work closely with your treating physician to get the proper documentation of your specific findings and impairments into the medical records. At Law Med that's what we