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UPDATE: A Rare Disabling Condition: Hypogammaglobulinemia

Posted on in Social Security Disability

Chicago Social Security Disability LawyerOriginally published: September 13, 2011 -- Updated: December 6, 2021

UPDATE: Below, we look at the requirements that a person will need to meet to demonstrate that symptoms related to hypogammaglobulinemia fall into a category that Social Security considers to be a disabling medical condition. However, it is important to understand that even if a person does not meet the specific criteria detailed in Social Security’s Listing of Impairments, they may still be able to qualify for disability benefits by providing evidence of total disability.

Social Security uses a five-step process to evaluate a disability claim, and the third step in this process involves determining whether a person’s condition is included in the Listing of Impairments or is equivalent to a condition in this listing. If a person’s condition does not meet the criteria in the Listing of Impairments, the fourth step of the evaluation process will look at whether a person can perform work they have done in the past, and the fifth step will look at whether they can perform other types of work that would allow them to maintain enough income to support themselves.

During these steps, a person’s residual functional capacity (RFC) will be evaluated to determine the types of work they may be able to perform. Symptoms of hypogammaglobulinemia may be considered when determining a person’s RFC. For instance, a person may experience extreme fatigue when receiving medical treatment for this condition, and this may affect their ability to concentrate on work-related activities or maintain a consistent pace while working. If a person can show that these symptoms have made it impossible for them to find or maintain employment, they may be able to receive disability benefits.

While it may sometimes be difficult to show that hypogammaglobulinemia is a disabling medical condition, applicants for disability benefits can improve their chances of success by working with an experienced lawyer. To get legal help with a disability application or to appeal the denial of a claim, contact our Illinois Social Security disability benefits attorney at 312-999-0999 and set up a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/14.00-Immune-Adult.htm#14_07


Hypogammaglobulinemia, a 21 letter mouthful that is as difficult to understand as to pronounce. On the surface, it is a rare immune disorder marked by a reduction in gamma globulins (serum proteins). A reduction in gamma globulins predisposes an individual to various infections. In other words, if someone suffering from hypogammaglobulinemia were to apply for Social Security disability benefits, then that person would most likely suffer from multiple impairments. Hypogammaglobulinemia does not have a specific heading under the Social Security Administration's Listing of Impairments. Thus, the condition is often poorly evaluated by adjudicators, forcing claimants suffering from the disease to have to wait for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge to argue their disability case.

Once in front of an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), there are many different ways to present a hypogammaglobulinemia case. While there is no specific heading for hypogammaglobulinemia in the Listing of Impairments, it could fall within the scope of Listing 14.07: Immune Deficiency Disorders, Excluding HIV Infection. To meet 14.07A, a claimant would need to suffer from Sepsis, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Septic Arthritis, Endocarditis, or Sinusitis and it would need to be resistant to treatment or require intravenous treatment three or more times in a year or require hospitalization. 14.07B has to do with stem cell transplantation and while it is a form of treatment for hypogammaglobulinemia, it is less common to meet part B. 14.07C requires repeated manifestations of the condition resulting in at least two of the constitutional symptoms (fever, involuntary weight loss, severe fatigue, etc.) and one of the following at the marked level: 1. Limitation of activities of daily living; 2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning; and 3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace. If an ALJ finds that a claimant suffers from hypogammaglobulinemia and meets Listing 14.07, that person will then be found to meet the medical requirements for disability benefits.

Another way to look at a hypogammaglobulinemia case would be to analyze the effect of the treatment itself. Many claimants suffering from the condition are required to take monthly gamma globulin injections to temporarily boost their immune system. Both the effectiveness of the injections and time commitment vary greatly. Some injection periods take over six hours to complete. The day or two after the injection can leave the claimant feeling extremely fatigued or sick. If a claimant would have to miss at least three days a month from work just for gamma globulin treatments, it would make it very difficult for that individual to hold down full-time employment. That claimant's Residual Functional Capacity would be greatly reduced.

A more common way of reviewing a hypogammaglobulinemia case would be to see whether the infections themselves meet a listing. Claimants applying for Social Security disability benefits with hypogammaglobulinemia often suffer for example from bronchitis or asthma. While a claimant might not meet Listing 14.07, that same individual might meet Listing 3.03 for Asthma.

Hypogammaglobulinemia is a rare immune disorder. Many claimants applying for disability benefits with the condition are denied repeatedly and are forced to argue their cases in front of an ALJ. Once in front of an ALJ, there are many different ways to review this type of case, making it quite challenging and easy to overlook its nuances. If you suffer from hypogammaglobulinemia and are applying for disability benefits, it is highly recommended that you seek legal representation, especially if you are waiting for a hearing in front of an ALJ.

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