Belleville, IL (PRWEB) March 09, 2012
A new Congressional Lupus Caucus announced last month by U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), William Keating (D-Mass.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), and Jim Moran (D-Va.), earned praise from Allsup, a nationwide Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation company. Allsup has helped thousands of individuals with the chronic autoimmune disease obtain their SSDI and Medicare benefits, and is a sponsor of the Lupus Foundation of America’s (LFA) 2012 Walk for Lupus Now.
The caucus will work in collaboration with the LFA, the leading voluntary health organization for people with lupus, to ensure that Congress understands lupus’ impact on individuals and their families. There is no cure for lupus, and Congressional caucus members said they hope to increase awareness and support for lupus research.
“A number of residents in my district feel the impact of lupus each day; yet one of the biggest challenges facing us is that we do not have hard statistics on the number of people in Massachusetts that are actually affected by this disease,” said Keating, caucus co-founder, in a press release. “I am hopeful that the work done by this caucus will bring much-needed answers to residents in our local communities struggling with lupus…and give them greater hope for their future.”
Lupus affects some 1.5 million Americans, 90 percent of whom are women, according to the LFA. The disease can damage any part of the body (skin, joints and organs). It strikes without warning, is unpredictable and sometimes fatal.
Lupus Affects the Ability to Work
The LFA reports that most people with lupus develop it between ages 15-44. Because lupus often begins during a person’s career-building phase of life, individuals have a lot to lose if they cannot continue working, according to Allsup, which has helped more than 170,000 people obtain the Social Security disability benefits they paid for while working.
SSDI is a federally mandated disability insurance program overseen by the SSA that operates separately from the retirement and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a severe disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for more than 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible.
“Individuals with lupus face a number of unique challenges when it comes to applying for SSDI,” said Tai Venuti, Allsup manager of Strategic Alliances. “Their medical records may not always paint a full picture of how lupus affects their ability to function. Common lupus symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, pain and inability to concentrate, are difficult to measure even though they can be debilitating at times.”
To qualify as disabled as defined by Social Security, persons with lupus must have severe involvement of at least one of 11 organs/body systems (joints, muscular, ocular, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, renal, hematologic, skin, neurologic and mental). Alternatively, they may have lesser impairment of two or more systems if at least one of the systems is involved at a moderate level of severity and the patient has significant symptoms and signs of severe fatigue, fever, malaise and weight loss.
“Many people with lupus are able to work full-time, but others are unable to continue working as soon as three or four years after diagnosis,” Venuti said. “That means they may lose 30 or more years of potential income and have limited opportunities to save money for retirement.”
Obtaining SSDI can help protect people’s Social Security retirement benefits by freezing their earnings record. However, the SSDI application process can be a confusing and time-consuming process. It can be further complicated for people with lupus who struggle to gather sufficient medical evidence to support their claim.
“Letting people know they can get help with their SSDI application from the very beginning can save them time, money and stress,” Venuti said. “Allsup has been helping people through the SSDI process for nearly three decades. When you’re already dealing with a chronic condition like lupus, added stress and worry are the last things you want on your plate.”
Allsup Sponsors Walk for Lupus Now Allsup is a Gold Sponsor for the 2012 national Walk for Lupus Now, which raises funds and awareness for this unpredictable and life-threatening disease. Thousands of walkers participate in more than 60 cities across the nation, rallying the lupus community, helping individuals learn how to better live with lupus, and raising awareness of the disease where they live. As a national sponsor, Allsup will offer free SSDI eligibility screenings and information on SSDI and Medicare in selected Lupus Walk cities on the dates below.
• San Diego, April 28
• New York, May 19
• Tampa, Fla., May 6
• Denver, May 20
• Orange County, Calif., June 23
• Los Angeles, Sept. 29
• Boston, October, to be determined
• San Francisco, Oct. 31
Find more information about lupus on the Lupus Foundation of America’s website, http://www.lupus.org.
Contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI eligibility evaluation or for answers to Social Security disability questions.
ABOUT ALLSUPAllsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to http://www.Allsup.com or visit Allsup on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Allsupinc.
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