SSD and Immune System Disorders
If you’ve made it this far into this year’s flu season without getting sick, you might be chalking it up to your impeccable hygiene skills. But while washing your hands is a great way to prevent nasty germs, you also have your immune system to thank!
The Role of the Immune System
The immune system is essentially the body’s defense system against unwanted invaders. Think of it as a control center inside your body. When an intruder enters, the control center recognizes the threat and sets out to stop or minimize the damage. It’s like an army inside your body, always ready and waiting to protect you.
The immune system is made up of a variety of cells, tissues, and organs. However, white blood cells, or leukocytes, play the most important role. When a disease-causing organism or substance, called an antigen, enters the body, white blood cells go on the defensive. They do this by producing antibodies to destroy the infection. One type of white blood cells, called phagocytes, lock on to antigens to destroy them. Lymphocytes, the other type of white blood cells, allow the body to detect and destroy previous antigens.
Once the immune system produces antibodies to fight antigens, the antibodies stay in the body. This is why when someone fights off an infection like chickenpox, they will probably not get sick from the same disease again. Similarly, when someone receives a vaccination, their body is introduced to a small amount of antigens. This triggers the immune system without actually making the person sick, and allows antibodies to build up inside the body. Because it involves the immune system, another name for vaccination is immunization.
The Impact of Immune System Disorders
The immune system is critical to staying healthy. So when an element of the immune system goes awry, it can wreak havoc on the entire body.
One of the most prominent immune system disorders is HIV/AIDS. When someone contracts HIV, it destroys white blood cells in the body. If HIV succeeds in fully damaging the immune system, it leads to AIDS, a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the body can no longer fight off even the simplest antigens.
While they are not as well-known as AIDS, there are many other disorders that affect the immune system. They include:
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Hashimato’s Disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Other serious and debilitating conditions, like Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis, are also linked to the immune system, as reactions beginning in the immune system spread to other areas of the body. Allergies, from hay fever to Celiac disease, are also a result of issues within the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to a common substance, like pollen or gluten.
Immune System Disorders and SSD
Complications within the immune system can range from mild to severely debilitating or even life-threatening. In many cases, an immune disorder can affect a person’s ability to work. For example, fatigue from lupus, a disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks itself, could hinder concentration and thought, while rheumatoid arthritis could make working physically difficult.
When an immune system disorder affects a person’s ability to work, they may be able to qualify for Social Security disability (SSD). For an immune system disorder to qualify someone for SSD, the disorder must fully prevent them from performing any type of work. For example, if someone has a severe pollen allergy, working outdoors might be triggering for their allergy, but working in an indoor office would not be; therefore, their allergies would probably not qualify them for SSD. On the other hand, if someone is suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis and unable to move their hands, they might qualify for SSD, because their condition makes doing any work difficult.
Like with any medical condition or injury, qualifying for SSD while suffering from an immune system disorder can be a complex process, and many applications face denial, even though they truly need the help. When someone is struggling to receive SSD benefits for an immune system disorder, an experienced SSD attorney may be able to help.
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