Skip to main content
How to Demonstrate That Your Sjögren’s Symptoms Are Disabling and Entitle You To Long-Term Disability Benefits cover

Sjögren’s symptoms can be incredibly debilitating, making the prospect of performing daily tasks exhausting. As anyone with Sjogren’s well knows, the distinct dry eyes and mouth, often compounded by fatigue, joint pain, and even organ dysfunction, can be totally disabling.

The impacts of Sjögren’s on your physical well-being might prevent you from working at anywhere near full capacity. However, the unfortunate reality is that while the symptoms of Sjögren’s may leave you unable to work, they are often difficult to effectively demonstrate in order to prove your right to receive long-term disability benefits.

Of course, this puts you in a difficult position: proving the reality of what you feel every day to insurance companies. However, despite this, it’s possible to overcome the barriers between you and the disability benefits you’re owed—if you take the right approach.

That said, you’ll first need to understand the intricacies of the claims process in order to proceed confidently.

Sjögren's Symptoms: Which Ones Can Debilitate You?

The signature symptoms of Sjögren’s are dry eyes and mouth. However, the most impactful effects of the condition extend far beyond these initial markers. Joint pain, skin rashes, tooth decay, digestive issues, prolonged fatigue, and persistent dry cough, nose, skin, lips, and throat can all significantly impair daily functionality, making tasks that once seemed mundane, now monumental.

Some of the most profound impacts of Sjögren’s can come from damage to internal organs. Everything from a patient's kidneys to their lungs can be impacted—further exacerbating the complications the syndrome already causes.

On top of all of these potential symptoms, the medications administered to treat the condition often bring a host of detrimental side effects. Immunosuppressants and anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased susceptibility to infections, gastrointestinal issues, and liver function abnormalities—all of which can prove debilitating in their own right.

Put simply, the condition may impact you in a variety of different capacities, many of which might make it impossible to perform your daily job functions as normal.

sjogren's symptoms

Testing For Sjögren's

One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to Sjögren’s can be obtaining your diagnosis in the first place. The symptoms of the condition mimic those of several other potential diagnoses, making it easy to miss the actual culprit.

Because of this overlap with other autoimmune disorders, specific tests are crucial. For instance, blood tests can look for antibodies like SS-A and SS-B that are typical of Sjögren’s. Meanwhile, eye tests like the Schirmer's test assess dryness severity. Dental tests can show if saliva production is reduced, leading to the syndrome’s characteristic dry mouth feeling; finally, a lip biopsy can check for the presence of indicative clusters of inflammatory cells.

All of these tests help you pinpoint if your symptoms are a result of Sjogren’s, or some other potential condition. However, the diagnosis on its own might not be enough to claim your long-term disability benefits. You’ll often need to augment your medical diagnosis with documentation supporting the life-alternating nature of your condition. It helps to maintain a detailed symptom journal, undergo functional capacity evaluations, and gather statements from healthcare providers detailing how your daily life is impacted by your symptoms.

Living with Sjögren's: Managing Your Symptoms

Self-advocacy in the workplace is difficult under any circumstances—but it can be downright onerous if you’re simultaneously managing chronic fatigue. However, you’re going to need to communicate with your employer now more than ever.

Start by exploring possible accommodations under disability laws. For example, flexible hours, regular breaks, ergonomic office equipment to ease joint strain, and remote work arrangements can all make it easier to find a balance between maintaining physical health and working capacity.

You may also need to reevaluate how you manage your workday to maintain maximum productivity. For instance, you might need to organize your schedule according to your energy levels, building in rest periods to align energy spikes with your workload.

At the same time, self-care in the form of hydration, exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management can be vital components of mitigating your symptoms.

Getting Your Employer and Doctor’s Support

Dealing with your Sjogren’s symptoms is much easier if you have a strong support system. Specifically, you need the proper medical care to mitigate the health challenges you face—but you also need the support of your employer to effectively manage your changing work-life balance needs.

To secure workplace support, begin by educating your employer about Sjögren's. Focus on how it affects your work with specific examples of challenges you face. This can naturally lead to suggestions for the types of accommodations you’re looking for.

With healthcare professionals, it's essential to be equally forthcoming. This way, your healthcare providers will be able to grasp the full scope of your condition. Keep a detailed record of your symptoms, their frequency, and intensity. As a result, you’ll be able to effectively convey the severity of what you’re feeling, rather than downplaying the pain, discomfort, or fatigue you suffer from.

Finally, keep an open and ongoing dialogue with both your employer and your medical team to ensure that you can easily adjust your external support to match your changing needs.

sjogrens symptoms

Do You Have Sjögren's Symptoms? You May Be Qualified for Long-Term Disability Benefits

You may need to implement some changes to your work life in response to your Sjögren’s symptoms. The dry eyes and mouth—combined with the fatigue, joint pain, and potential organ damage—might force you to modify how you approach maintaining your productivity and health.

With this in mind, you may need to secure long-term disability benefits in order to strike this balance. Consider seeking professional legal advice to understand and navigate the intricacies of your unique case—especially considering the diagnostic difficulty of Sjögren’s. Firms like Kantor & Kantor Law specialize in long-term disability claims; they can offer the expertise and support you need to ensure your rights are effectively represented and advocated for.

Reach out to speak to an experienced attorney at Kantor & Kantor today.