Slepian Smith, PLLC

What are primary immunodeficiency diseases?

Primary immunodeficiency diseases (PI) include more than 350 chronic and rare disorders that result from the body's immune system not functioning as it should.

April happens to be Primary Immunodeficiency Awareness Month, so we thought now would be a great time to discuss PI and how Social Security Disability benefits may be available to sufferers.

First, let's discuss what causes PI and who may be affected. These disorders are caused by genetics and they are not contagious. Anyone - male or female - can be affected by PI, and diagnosis often occurs at birth or early in childhood.

PI diseases differ in various ways, but one thing they all have in common is that there is a defect in the way the body's immune system functions.

Because the immune system's job is to protect the body from infection, people with PI are much more susceptible to infection. Infections also tend to be more severe or more difficult to treat in people with PI. That is how a person may know that he or she is suffering from PI.

The Immune Deficiency Foundation suggests that a person ask their doctor to check them for PI if they have an infection that is severe, persistent, unusual, recurrent or prevalent in their family.

Although many people with PI lead long and independent lives, the disorders can cause serious health problems and complications that can last weeks, months or years. If this is the case, a child or adult with PI may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits to help support their financial needs.

To qualify for disability benefits based on PI, the applicant must be able to provide medical documentation of the specific PI to the SSA. One of three disabling conditions must also be proven to the SSA before benefits will be granted.

Even though the disabling effects of PI are well-known, it can still be difficult to quality for disability benefits because of the SSA's strict requirements. An experienced disability attorney can help prepare an application or appeal that makes approval more likely.

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