If lupus symptoms interfere with your ability to perform your job, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Lupus is a long-term, or chronic, autoimmune condition. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs, leading to inflammation, damage, and pain.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that around 1.5 million Americans have this condition. Lupus mainly affects women ages 15–44, and it may be more common and more severe in People of Color.

Many people with lupus have mild symptoms. For some people, though, this condition can be very serious.

If you or a loved one has lupus, keep reading to learn which factors can affect eligibility for SSDI or SSI benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), lupus may qualify as a disability if it meets the following criteria:

Type 1: Involvement of at least two organs

At least one of the affected organs must have moderate or severe symptoms. In addition, you must experience at least two of the symptoms affecting your general well-being (called constitutional symptoms):

Type 2: Significant effects on quality of life

You must experience at least two of the constitutional symptoms listed above. In addition, the following aspects of your life must be significantly limited by the condition:

  • activities of daily living (for example, bathing or showering, dressing, eating, using the toilet)
  • ability to maintain social functioning (for example, work, relationships, and social activities)
  • ability to complete tasks on time, due to issues with concentration, persistence, or pace

If you have been diagnosed with lupus and cannot work because of your condition, you may be eligible for SSDI, SSI, or both.

SSDI provides benefits to people with disabilities who have worked and paid Social Security taxes. SSI, on the other hand, provides benefits to people with limited income and resources who are at least one of the following:

  • people with disabilities
  • blind people
  • older adults

SSDI and SSI have separate lists of requirements that you need to meet to qualify.

You may qualify for SSDI if you:

  • worked recently enough and sufficiently enough, and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings
  • have a disability that is long term and full
  • cannot perform work you did previously and cannot do another type of work
  • have a condition that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 1 year or to be fatal

To qualify for the SSI program, you must:

  • be at least 65 years old or have a medical disability or blindness
  • be a U.S. citizen or national
  • have limited income, such as wages or pension
  • have limited resources (things you own)
  • be a resident of one of the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands

You can apply for both SSDI and SSI:

  • online at the SSA website
  • by phone by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY: 800-325-0778)
  • by scheduling a phone or in-person appointment with your local Social Security office

Be sure to have all the necessary documents, such as:

  • birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful resident status (also known as lawful alien status or having a green card)
  • medical records, doctors’ reports, and test results
  • work information, such as W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns for the past year

Lupus is a disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA), passed in 1990. ADA protects Americans with disabilities from discrimination in different areas of life, such as:

  • employment
  • voting and running for office
  • transportation
  • education
  • healthcare

Let’s go over a few questions that people with lupus frequently ask about their disability.

Is lupus considered a permanent disability?

Lupus can be considered a permanent disability if you have severe symptoms that keep you from working a full-time job for over a year.

What benefits can I claim for having lupus?

If your symptoms of lupus prevent you from having a full-time job, you can receive SSDI, SSI, or both, depending on your previous work history and other factors.

How much disability do you get for lupus?

The amount of disability benefits you can receive depends on multiple factors, including your:

  • work history
  • income
  • living arrangements

In 2023, the maximum SSDI benefit amount per month is $3,627. The maximum SSI benefit for the same year is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple.

Is there a lupus disability tax credit?

If you or your dependent has a disability and receives either SSDI or SSI, you may qualify for certain tax credits, such as:

  • child and dependent care credit
  • credit for older adults and people with disabilities
  • earned income tax credit

How long does it take to get disability for lupus?

It can take several months to a year to obtain a decision on your disability application. Keep in mind that as many as 2 out of 3 people are denied benefits and have to appeal the decision, sometimes several times. Hiring a disability lawyer may help increase your odds of approval.

Lupus is a chronic condition that can be considered a medical disability under U.S. law if it meets certain criteria. If you have been diagnosed with lupus and cannot work because of your condition, you may be eligible for SSDI, SSI, or both.

To apply for disability benefits, you can call a toll-free number, make an appointment with your local Social Security office, or apply online. It’s important to provide all relevant medical evidence to increase your chances of approval.