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Autoimmune diseases and workers’ comp

| May 13, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

Autoimmune diseases are a serious problem in the United States. In fact, they are in the top 10 causes of death for women aged 15 to 64, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Although 75 percent of people who get autoimmune diseases are women in this age group, other people get them, too. There are over 80 known autoimmune diseases, but what they have in common is that the immune system attacks the tissues of the body rather than attacking germs or viruses. Some autoimmune diseases attack a specific organ, such as the thyroid, the liver or the stomach, while others attack throughout the body.

One type of autoimmune disease many people are familiar with is arthritis, which is the common name for joint inflammation. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia are all types of arthritis, with symptoms that could include stiffness, redness, joint pain and swelling. These symptoms frequently limit joint function and make it difficult for a person to use the area of the body that is affected.

Seeking benefits for autoimmune disease

Jobs that create environmental risk factors or that aggravate conditions such as arthritis have the potential to make a person more susceptible to an autoimmune disease or to trigger its onset. There are many occupational and chemical exposure triggers for autoimmunity. For example, medical radiation exposure is a known trigger of autoimmune thyroid disease, and repetitive stress injuries may lead to arthritis.

Workers’ compensation benefits are available for those who have an autoimmune disease that is aggravated, accelerated or reactivated by a situation at work. The pre-existing condition does not negate the compensability of the claim. Eligibility requirements for any workers’ compensation claim include the following:

  • The physical or mental injury is work related.
  • The injury prevents the employee from working.
  • The employee notifies the employer of the injury within the required time period.

In Illinois, an employee has 45 days to notify the employer of the injury. The state recommends that this notification is in writing, but it can be presented orally. Inclusion of personal information and a description of the injury or illness may speed the process of receiving benefits.

Dealing with an autoimmune disease as well as legal issues can be exhausting and difficult. An attorney who is familiar with the workers’ comp laws in Illinois makes the process for obtaining benefits easier and less stressful.