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By Diana Wade
Disability Advocate 

Applying for SSD with Addison's Disease

Ask the Advocate


Addison’s disease (AD) is a disorder of the endocrine system, specifically the adrenal glands, in which the affected individual’s body does not produce the right amount of hormones necessary for controlling the conversion of food to energy, inflammatory and stress response, and blood pressure levels.

Symptoms of Addison’s disease include muscle ache, joint pain, weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, fainting, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, loss of appetite and body weight, craving sodium, low blood sugar, mood swings and depression. The onset of symptoms often occurs slowly and can be difficult to diagnose.

Addison’s disease can also occur suddenly, and is then called acute adrenal failure or addisonian crisis. The prominent symptom of addisonian crisis is pain in the abdomen, lower back and/or legs with dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea, low blood pressure and fainting, and possibly severity of other Addison’s disease symptoms. Addisonian crisis can be fatal and requires immediate hospitalization for intravenous treatment with hydrocortisone, saline and sugar.

Addison’s disease can be treated through taking daily hormone replacements orally to correct the deficiencies, in doses based on each individual’s needs. Dosage changes are likely needed when the body faces stress, including viruses and infections. Taking the correct dosage will help keep symptoms in check.

It’s time to see a doctor when experiencing a combination of Addison’s disease symptoms, particularly darkened skin, nausea and vomiting, weight loss and intense fatigue. The other symptoms of Addison’s may also be present.

Diagnosis comes after a variety of tests including blood testing for levels of indicators such as sodium, cortisol levels and testing, blood sugar testing, and CT and MRI imaging scans of the adrenal and pituitary glands.

Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.

This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.

Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

When documenting the effects of AD on your life, the little things matter. Does it affect your ability to stand or sit? Does it affect your ability to perform daily activities? Does it affect your ability to use common household or office tools and equipment? Any time your condition causes you to be unable to do something, write it down and date it. Not only can this be helpful when applying for Social Security disability benefits, but you will want the information with you when you discuss your condition with your doctor.

If you or someone you love suffers from AD, and you are unable to continue working as a result of your condition, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Because proving complete disability due to AD can be difficult, it’s in your best interest to seek representation by a Social Security disability representative.

Many people with AD Gravis are able to keep their symptoms under control and continue to live normal lives. Many can continue to enjoy the things they have always enjoyed and can continue to work. For those who can’t, Social Security disability benefits are often the best way to continue to meet obligations and live a reasonably normal life.

An Accredited Disability Representative with more than 16 years experience, Diana Wade believes her clientele can be comfortable knowing that she is recognized by SSA and a charter member of NADR. To contact Ms. Wade call 661-821-0494, email or visit


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