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Mixed connective tissue disorder (MCTD) is a rare autoimmune disorder. It shares symptoms with several other connective tissue diseases, including systemic lupus, scleroderma, polymyositis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Because it shares symptoms with so many other disorders, it is sometimes referred to as an overlap syndrome.

Some of these alternative names for MCTD are Sharp’s Syndrome and Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD). This term may be used when the symptoms and testing do not fit a specific diagnosis of lupus or other connective tissue diseases.Mixed Connective Tissue Disease - Diagnosis written on a piece of white paper with medication and Pills

With mixed connective tissue disease, the symptoms usually don’t appear all at once. Instead, they occur over a number of years. Which can make it hard for a doctor to diagnosis the disease. Many times we will read medical records where the patient has complained of fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms for years. Unfortunately, it can take years for doctors to finally determine that you have this disease.

Early signs and symptoms often involve problems with the hands and fingers. For example, your fingers might get puffy and the tips of your fingers might become numb. In later stages, your internal organs — such as the lungs, heart and kidneys — can be affected. MCTD can occur in people of any age. However, it is most common in women under the age of 50.


Common symptoms of mixed connective tissue disorder include:

  1. Joint pain and swelling
  2. Muscle weakness
  3. Raynaud’s disease (a condition where fingers and toes turn white or blue in response to cold or stress)
  4. Skin tightening
  5. Swollen hands
  6. Problems with your ability to swallow
  7. Fatigue
  8. Fever

MCTD can show up differently in each person, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose. However, it is important for doctors to identify and treat the disorder early. Early treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent future problems in this chronic condition.


Because there is no cure for mixed connective tissue disorder, treatment involves managing symptoms. As MCTD shares features with various connective tissue diseases, treatment may address your specific symptoms. Here are some general approaches to treat MCTD:

  1. Medications:
    • Non steroidal drugs can be used to manage your pain.
    • Steroids, such as prednisone, can control inflammation and manage symptoms during a flare. However, long term use of steroids can have side effects. So, the goal is to use the lowest dose possible to try to control your symptoms.
  2. Immunosuppressive medications:
    • In cases where MCTD symptoms are severe or involve organ damage, then your doctor may give you immunosuppressive medications.
  3. Raynaud’s disease:
    • Medications may be given to you to improve blood flow and reduce symptoms associated with Raynaud’s disease.
  4. Physical Therapy:
    • Physical therapy can help with joint flexibility and improve your muscle strength.
  5. Symptomatic Treatment:
    • Addressing specific symptoms is an important part of MCTD treatment. For example, if there is lung involvement, treatment may include medications to manage lung issues.
  6. Regular Visits:
    • Regular visits with your doctor will help monitor disease activity. Your doctor can adjust your  medications as needed and address any problem symptoms.
  7. Lifestyle Changes:  Patients are often advised to adopt good habits, including regular exercise and a healthy diet. Also, you should avoid smoking.


Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) is diagnosed when clinical features and findings of two or more autoimmune diseases overlap. In order to win SSD benefits, you must meet listing 14.06. You meet the listing by having all of the elements from the list in your medical records. Below, you will find listing 14.06.

LISTING 14.06 – Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease.

14.06 Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease with:

A. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems, with:

1. One of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and

2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).


B. Repeated manifestations of undifferentiated or mixed connective tissue disease, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:

1. Limitation of activities of daily living.

2. Limitation in maintaining social function.

3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.


If you don’t meet listing 14.06, then you can still win SSDI and SSI benefits under SSA’s rules. There is a vocational rule that takes your MCTD symptoms, any other medical conditions, your age, work history, skills, and education into account.

When the SSA decides your residual functional capacity (RFC), they use your statements on the forms you fill out for them. For example, when you fill out forms about your past work, you state how much you had to lift on the job and how also tell them how much you stood or sat during a work day.

Your answers on these forms are often some of the most important statements you make. If you state on you Work History form that you lifted nothing on the job, then that is what the SSA assumes is correct. Frankly, there are no jobs where you lift “nothing.” But for some reason, many people write that down as an answer. Even desk jobs require some lifting. You might, for example, lift files, boxes of paper, books, or supplies.

Think about it. Failing to tell the SSA about the lifting you had to do at your past jobs, makes it easier for them to return you to your past jobs. If you lifted heavy weight on the job and now, your MCTD prevents that, then you cannot perform your past work. Don’t make the mistake of not filling out your paperwork or filling it out wrong. If you do so, then you are making it easier for the SSA to deny your case.


You may think that you can work with your MCTD symptoms. Or, you may find that your employer cannot put up with your symptoms at work. Your symptoms may slow you down or make you forget instructions. Pain can do that. Therefore, it is important to file for SSD benefits as soon as you think you may have a period to time off work or you don’t know when you may be able to return to work because of your medical condition.

Applying for SSD benefits is not a hard thing to do. You can file an application online at the Social Security website. Also, we can help you file your application. Learn more about SSA’s five step review process for winning SSD benefits.

You can also call Social Security to begin your application over the phone. If you are in doubt about whether you should apply, then call our office. It is free. You can talk to one of our legal experts.  They will answer your questions. We can help you if you have a medical condition that prevents you from working.


If you have mixed connective tissue disorder, then there are two types of benefits you can file for under the Social Security program:  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to receive any sort of benefit from the SSA, you must first file an application. You can do this online at Social Security’s website. Below, please find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who have worked in the recent past and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, you will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit and it is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income. If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, for example, then that income will be the factor in whether you can receive SSI benefits. You cannot qualify for SSI benefits, no matter how severe your mixed connective tissue disease, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.


If you have a severe medical condition such as mixed connective tissue disorder, then Cannon Disability offers a free review of your benefits. But, what does this mean?

For most people who want to become clients, it means we will talk to you about your Social Security case over the phone. We will not charge you to examine the merits of your case. Most lawyers do charge a fee to review your case. We do not.

Please understand, however, that providing a free review is not the same thing as accepting your case. We examine the merits of your case based upon the facts you give us.

Sometimes, we will request that you send us medical records or a copy of your SSA paperwork. We do this so we can understand the details of your case. Even if we ask for more information, it does not mean we accept your case or that we are your attorney.

You will know if you hire our legal team because we will send you our contract to sign. We will also send you other Social Security paperwork to fill out. Return your paperwork to us as soon as possible. If you do not sign and send the paperwork back, then we are not yet your law firm.


If you have mixed connective tissue disease, then you need to apply for Social Security benefits. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, then the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back to the SSA as soon as you can.


If you want to learn more about the lawyers and staff at or law firm, then read our About Us page. There you will find more information about each of us. For example, Andria Summers can help you with your Medicare plan. Likewise, she has also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.

Dianna Cannon has many years of legal experience helping her clients win SSDI and SSI benefits. She has been an attorney for thirty years. Ms. Cannon also has bar licenses in a number of states. For example, she has a law license in California, Utah, Nevada, and Washington State. She also has experience taking cases to the Appeals Council and Federal Court.

Additionally, Brett Bunkall also has years of legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. Mr. Bunkall has won thousands of Social Security hearings. He is an expert in SSD law. Similarly, all of our staff and lawyers are experts in Social Security law. You can trust us to help you win Social Security benefits for your mixed connective tissue disease.

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