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Most people don’t think “disabling” and “skin condition” belong in the same sentence. But with spring upon us in the mid south…this holds more truth than you would think. In the greater Memphis area, including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, the spring and summer can bring intense sun and heat. Two important factors that can affect people with preexisting skin conditions. The Heermans Social Security Law Firm happens to have great air conditioning in their offices to prove this point. But, on a more serious note, the Social Security Administration states, “any medical condition that makes a person unemployable is disabling”. That definition also applies to skin conditions, even if the conditions themselves aren’t life-threatening. 

Psoriasis is a good example. It is a very common skin condition and over 20 percent of these victims say their skin condition has affected most areas of their life, including their working careers. That’s mostly because psoriasis is often visible and can affect how you interact with others in the workplace. Skin conditions come with a long list of ways they affect a person’s social and intimate personal life. Skin is the largest organ in and on our body; an often overlooked critical component to being able to work and hold a job successfully. 

Psoriasis is also just one example. The SSA’s Listing of Impairments aka BLUE BOOK, includes several skin conditions that could be disabling. Most of these conditions are injury or genetic-related. These are some of the more “straightforward” skin conditions that may be qualified as having a presumption status. If a presumption applies, a Heermans disability lawyer near you must only prove the symptoms of this condition are disabling. Again, these symptoms don’t have to be bad enough to keep a victim in bed all day. They must only be bad enough to prevent that victim from finding, and retaining, a job.

If the skin condition isn’t listed in the Blue Book, don’t give up hope – disability benefits may still be available. But, these cases will require your Heermans lawyer to carefully prepare your application for benefits to include all necessary medical documentation from the doctor, proving the condition exists and its negative effect upon your ability to have a job. The average Social Security Disability beneficiary receives about $1,500 per month. The bonus is that this income is usually tax-free. So, the benefits available could easily add up to being equal to a full-time income for someone who can only work a part-time job because their skin condition created a disability for them.

Evaluating Skin Conditions

As a threshold matter, the skin condition must be extensive and include frequent flare-ups proving that it is chronic and ongoing. Additionally, the disability increases if the skin condition is painful and available treatments are largely ineffective or treatment is simply unavailable or not well tolerated by the patient, i.e. the treatment is worse than the condition.

“Extensive” is a very subjective word. More than one skin lesion is extensive. According to the Blue Book, skin lesions are extensive if they:

  • Inhibit range of motion (e.g. lesions on an upper or lower extremity),
  • Palm lesions that restrict fine motor skills, and
  • Foot lesions that affect ambulation (walking without assistance).

Flare-ups are even more important than lesions. In fact, flare-ups alone could be disabling, if these lesions appear frequently enough to interfere with employment.

Lesions fluctuate, and pain level fluctuates as well. Generally, if bad days outnumber good days, and the pain is at least a 4 out of 10 on those bad days, the condition could be disabling. To put it simply, people usually cannot work when their body’s in pain…pain and discomfort are just too distracting and limit a person’s ability to focus on work. 

Treatment is a wildcard in these situations. Prescription skin treatments are often effective, at least to an extent. But creams just temporarily calm the lesions and/or reduce pain. Oral medications often have very strong side-effects like making a person dizzy or light-headed. In both situations, a person can become immune to these treatments. Which means they work for a while and then they stop working and you have to find another treatment over and over again. So, there’s a difference between an available treatment, effective treatment, and possibly having to find an effective treatment again and again. With all of the possible drama and confusion of treatments, effectiveness is the only thing that counts when you are trying to get to work everyday and hold down a job.

Common Skin Conditions

As mentioned, many skin conditions have genetic or other such causes. To a personal injury attorney, cause matters a lot. But to a Heermans Social Security Disability attorney, cause is irrelevant. Only the effect matters. Common listed skin conditions include:

  • Burns: Temperature burns and chemical burns could be disabling, under the aforementioned analysis. Temperature burn claims are easier to prove. These wounds often inhibit motion and other such activities. Furthermore, they are very painful.
  • GPD: Genetic Photosensitivity Disorders, like xeroderma pigmentosum, are usually childhood diseases. XP victims are very vulnerable to solar radiation, increasing their risk of skin cancer and other medical issues. Any similar condition could be disabling.
  • Dermatitis: Psoriasis is a form of dermatitis. Others include dyshidrosis, allergic contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and exfoliative dermatitis. As an additional threshold matter, dermatitis skin lesions must persist for at least three months, even if the applicant is receiving treatment.
  • Bullous Disease: This rare condition, which is characterized by open sores and bloody blisters, almost always affects older people. Steroids are available, but the steroids are so strong that the cure is often more debilitating than the disease. These blisters and sores often become infected.
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Obesity and smoking are the primary risk factors for this condition, which causes boils and other skin lesions to appear in sweaty, hairy areas of the body, like the armpits and groin. These body areas are also very sensitive, making this condition quite painful. Hidradenitis Suppurativa spreads quickly, and infections are common.

A medical diagnosis alone isn’t enough to determine if a skin condition is disabling. Other required proof includes information about the onset, duration, frequency of flare-ups, prognosis of the skin disorder; the location, size, and appearance of lesions. Additional required information could include history of exposure to toxins, allergens, or irritants, familial incidence, seasonal variation, stress factors, and the ability to function outside of a highly protective environment.

Furthermore, to confirm a diagnosis, Disability Determination Services officers often want laboratory findings (for example, results of a biopsy obtained independently of Social Security disability evaluation or blood tests) or evidence from other medically acceptable methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice.

SSD Settlements

Disability is an all-or-nothing determination. There’s no such thing as a partial disability in this context. As mentioned, skin conditions usually aren’t completely debilitating. But they can cause enough physical and emotional issues to affect employment. In terms of re-examinations, the standard SSD requirement is biannual appointments. This usually means more missed work to people who are often already on shaky ground. Therefore, a Heermans disability lawyer often focuses on these and other SSD required provisions. Annual re-examinations make a lot more sense, especially if the victim’s condition has been relatively steady for several months or years. Additionally, SSA lawyers often encourage their clients to participate in required medical telehealth and digital style appointments/visits to ease stress.

If you are suffering from a skin condition and are needing Social Security Disability Assistance or if your application for benefits has been denied, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. You can call or text us 24/7 at (901) 244-0057 and more value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.

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