Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi and spread by the black-legged deer tick. Symptoms of Lyme Four Black-Legged Deer Ticksdisease often develop in three stages, and if the disease is left untreated, infection can spread to other parts of the body. Typical symptoms of the disease include fatigue, fever, headache, and a skin rash. If Lyme disease is diagnosed early, antibiotics can be used to successfully treat it. But this disease can also be debilitating, making it impossible to work. It’s at this advanced stage of Lyme disease that a person may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

The Three Stages of Lyme Disease

Each individual experiences Lyme disease differently, but the symptoms usually appear in three stages—each with progressively worse symptoms if not treated. These stages are:

  • Stage one. People infected with Lyme disease often have flu-like symptoms within a few days or weeks of the tick bite. These symptoms include body aches and a headache. Additionally, they often see a bull’s eye rash surrounding the bite area.
  • Stage two. The symptoms at this stage are usually more severe. Within weeks to months, a person bitten by a tick may suffer dizziness, meningitis, muscle and joint pain, problems with sleeping, and changes in mood. It’s also possible for a person to lose muscle control of his face and experience heart problems.
  • Stage three. Beginning within months to years after the tick bite, people can suffer serious symptoms that affect their brain, eyes, and nerves. Two primary neurological conditions common with this stage are:
    • Lyme encephalopathy. This can cause short-term memory and concentration problems.
    • Chronic encephalomyelitis. This can cause weakness in the legs and facial muscles; bladder problems; vertigo; and cognitive issues.

If your Lyme disease is in an advanced stage, and the limitations caused by this condition make it impossible for you to work, contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for social security benefits.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska