If you or someone you know has a skin disorder such as ichthyosis, a bullous disease, dermatitis, or suffer from burns, you may have a disability that meets the criteria established by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments (the “Listings”). The Listing of Impairments lists impairments considered severe enough to prevent an individual from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is work that earns income above a certain threshold per month. In 2017, this is $1,170 for non-blind disabled applicants and $1,950 for blind applicants.
When Social Security evaluates and assesses the existence and severity of a skin disorder, it typically requires information about the onset, duration, frequency of flare-ups, and prognosis of a skin disorder. Regarding skin lesions, this would first include basic information related to their location, size, and appearance.
However, the SSA considers other factors, if applicable, such as the history of exposure to allergens, irritants, or toxins, familial stress factors, incidence, seasonal variation, and the ability to function in other than a highly protective environment. Thus, Social Security may need additional evidence to confirm the diagnosis and find the existence of the impairment. This evidence would consist of laboratory findings or evidence from other medically acceptable practices consistent with the established and prevalent state of medical knowledge and clinical practice.
Social Security assesses the severity of skin disorders based on its assessment of severity on the extent of skin lesions, the frequency of flare-ups of skin lesions, how symptoms such as pain limit the claimant, the extent of treatment, and how the claimant is affected by the treatment.
*Extensive skin lesions are those that involve multiple body sites or critical body areas and result in a very serious limitation. Examples of extensive skin lesions that result in a very serious limitation include but are not limited to:
- Skin lesions that interfere with motion of the joints that very seriously limits the use of more than one extremity – two upper extremities, two lower extremities, or one upper and one lower extremity.
- Skin lesions on the palms of both hands that very seriously limit the claimant’s ability to do fine and gross motor movements.
- Skin lesions on the soles of both feet, the perineum, or both inguinal areas that very seriously limit a claimant’s ability to walk or ambulate.
*Frequent flare-ups may result in extensive skin lesions. If a claimant has skin lesions that fail to meet the requirements of any of the listings in this particular body system, an impairment may still exist that prevents a claimant from doing any gainful activity when Social Security considers a claimant’s condition over time.
Thus, frequent flare-ups may allow the SSA to find that an impairment is medically equal to one of these listings despite the fact that there are periods in which a condition is in remission. In making this determination, Social Security consider the frequency and seriousness of flare-ups, how quickly they resolve, and how the claimant functions between flare-ups to determine whether a claimant has been unable to do any gainful activity for a continuous period of at least 12 months or may be expected to be unable to do any gainful activity for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The frequency of flare-ups is examined when the SSA determines whether a claimant has a severe impairment and when it assesses the claimant’s residual functional capacity.
*Of course, claimants should also not discount pain as a symptom of their skin disorder, especially when they suffer skin lesions. Pain and other symptoms may be important factors contributing to the severity of skin disorders. The SSA follows certain guidelines to assess the impact of symptoms.
The Sullivan Law Office provides assistance in ensuring that all applicants and recipients receive all of the benefits to which they are entitled in all types of disability cases. These include Social Security Disability, long-term disability, short-term disability, state retirement and workers’ compensation. Contact the Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you. Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online.