Disability Benefits Can Assist People Living With MRSA

Because most bacterial infections can often be treated or cured, they don’t typically qualify a person for Social Security Disability benefits. MRSA however, is very different. MRSA—or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus—is a complex and dangerous disease that cannot be cured.

It is important to note that patients can be externally colonized by MRSA without actually having an infection. This means that people can test positive for MRSA but won’t have any of the typical symptoms. Individuals facing these circumstances will still be considered high risk patients for the rest of their lives.

An infection occurs when the MRSA bacteria experiences uncontrolled growth and the body attempts to fight it off.  An infection can be contained in a single wound or it can spread through a patient’s blood supply to other organs.  A MRSA infection can be deadly. Individuals who have had MRSA sepsis or invasive infections are internally colonized and considered to be a high risk patient for the rest of their lives. MRSA cells can go dormant and activate several years later in different parts of the body or the original site.

Fighting MRSA and the associated symptoms can make it impossible for an individual to work. If you find yourself in this situation, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The following article will provide you with a basic understanding of Social Security Disability benefits and will prepare you to begin the application process.

The Social Security Administration’s Definition of Disability

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, applicants must meet many different medical and technical eligibility requirements.  The most basic requirement, perhaps, is meeting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability. Essentially, this means that you must be able to provide medical documentation that proves that you are suffering from a health condition that is expected to last at least 12 months.

Although all health conditions must meet this very broad definition of disability, each condition also has its own set of specific eligibility requirements.  You can find these requirements listed in the SSA’s official manual of disabling conditions known as the blue book.

MRSA falls under section 8.04 (Chronic Infections of the Skin) of the SSA’s blue book. For an applicant to qualify under this listing, he or she would need to provide medical evidence that MRSA has caused severe skin lesions that persist for a minimum of three months, despite receiving appropriate treatment.

Even if you do not meet the blue book criteria, it is still possible to be approved for disability benefits. If your application and supporting medical documentation proves that MRSA makes it impossible for you to work, you may qualify based on a medical vocational allowance. This basically means that, even though you do not meet the blue book listing, you still meet the SSA’s definition of disability.

Social Security Disability Benefit Programs and Technical Requirements

The SSA runs two separate disability benefit programs. In addition to meeting the previously mentioned medical requirements, both of these programs have separate technical requirements that applicants must meet.

The first program—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)—is funded by FICA taxes paid into the system by workers all over the country. Therefore, eligibility for SSDI is based on an applicant’s employment history and the amount of taxes he or she has paid. To make this simpler, the SSA assigns “work credits” to each quarter that someone works and pays taxes. The SSA requires a specific amount of work credits to qualify for this program.  Learn more about work credits, here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi.

It is important to note that SSDI is not a health insurance program. However, after a two year waiting period, SSDI recipients become eligible for Medicare

The second disability program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unlike SSDI, eligibility for SSI is dependent on an applicant’s financial standing—not his or her work history. SSI is a needs-based program. This means that, to qualify, applicants must have very limited income and financial resources. This program is often the best option for individuals who may not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Learn more about the financial requirements for SSI, here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssi/qualify-for-ssi.

Also unlike SSDI, SSI recipients automatically qualify for Medicare. Learn more about Medicaid and Medicare, here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/faq/medicare-vs-medicaid.

Being Prepared for the Social Security Disability Application Process

Prior to submitting your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits, it is very important that you collect the necessary records and documents. The SSA will use the medical records you provide to determine whether or not you are disabled by your condition. Medical documentation should include records of your diagnosis, hospitalizations, treatments, reactions to treatments, and even official statements from your doctor. You should also collect financial statements and documents regarding your work history.

Once you decide to apply for disability benefits, you can do so online or in person at your local Social Security office. It is important to remember that many initial applications are denied. If your initial application is denied, do not lose hope. You can appeal this decision.  Remember, Social Security Disability benefits exist to help you. Once you receive approval, you will be able to focus on your health rather than your financial distress.