Sjogren's Syndrome is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys moisture-producing glands, such as tear glands and salivary glands. Symptoms include dry eyes, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, loss of taste and smell, swollen salivary glands, severe dental cavities caused by dry mouth, and oral yeast infections. Fatigue and joint pain may occur as well, ranging in intensity from mild to disabling.
I represent a 56 year old woman who worked as a home health aide until she had to stop working due to her Sjogren’s. Her Sjogren’s was confirmed by biopsy and blood testing. The claimant’s fatigue, joint pain, and recurrent infections rendered her unable to continue working. I was retained after the claimant’s Social Security Disability (“SSD”) application had been denied, and she had been scheduled for a hearing. The claimant started receiving her SSD benefits today.
I had obtained a report from the claimant’s treating rheumatologist that showed the claimant lacked the ability to perform any type of work on a full time basis. Nonetheless, I argued that because the claimant met the “listing” for Sjogren’s, she did not need to establish her ability to perform the physical demands of working. The Social Security medical expert at the hearing insisted that there was no listing for Sjogren’s, at which point I insisted that he use a more current handbook containing the listings. The Sjogren’s listed was added in March 2008.