Skin disorders are nothing more than a nuisance to many people in Chicago. However, victims of serious conditions, such as burns or ichthyosis, know these conditions can affect daily life and functional abilities. A severe condition may even prevent an individual from working. People suffering from a disabling skin condition may apply for Social Security Disability benefits, which provide financial support in the absence of employment.
The Social Security Administration only considers a skin condition disabling if it lasts or is expected to last more than a year. The condition also must cause functional limitations that prevent the victim from performing any kind of work. Such limitations could include reduced joint mobility, impaired motor skills or limited ability to ambulate. The SSA includes the following potentially disabling skin conditions in its impairment listings:
- Bullous disease
- Persistent skin or mucus membrane infections
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
- Genetic photosensitivity disorders
The SSA only recognizes the first five conditions if they are accompanied by lesions that are unresponsive to treatment for at least three months. Burns and photosensitivity disorders are recognized if they are accompanied by skin lesions expected to last over 12 months. An applicant suffering from any of these conditions must provide medical documentation of the condition and its response to treatment. In some cases, the SSA may require a biopsy as independent proof of the condition.
Conditions that are not listed may still qualify for SSD benefits. However, people with these disorders must provide even more documentation so the SSA can judge the severity of the condition.
To determine whether a non-listed condition is disabling, the SSA evaluates factors such as the size and extent of lesions, the frequency and duration of flare-ups and the associated level of pain. Since many skin conditions respond to treatment, the SSA also considers the extent of treatment and the results, including adverse side effects. Any disabling side effects of a treatment are taken into account along with direct effects of the condition.
If a condition affects other parts of the body, in addition to the skin, the SSA will consider the primary adverse effect of the condition first. For example, malignant melanoma is evaluated as a neoplastic disease, or a cancer, rather than a skin condition. Psoriasis resulting in psoriatic arthritis is first evaluated as an immune system disorder.
Many of the conditions that affect the skin have detrimental effects on other parts of the body. People with these conditions can benefit from working with an experienced attorney to determine which effects to focus on and what kind of documentation to provide.