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Dermatitis and Social Security Disability

by | May 1, 2021 | Social Security Disability Benefits

When evaluating a claimant’s claim for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration makes a medical assessment to determine whether an individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals a listing in the Listing of Impairments, or if the individual’s impairment(s) are at a level that precludes his/her ability to perform any past relevant work or any other work in the national economy.

In order for an individual’s impairment(s) to meet a listing, his/her impairment(s) must meet ALL the criteria of one of the listed impairments in the listings. If an individual’s impairment(s) meets the requirements of a listed impairment, the Social Security Administration, after reviewing your medical records, will find that individual is disabled.

As it relates to Dermatitis, the Social Security Administration puts this impairment under 8.00 Skin Disorders and specifically, under Listing 8.05 Dermatitis. In order to meet the
requirements of Listing 8.05, an individual must have a skin disorder (such as psoriasis,
dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, etc.), with the following:

Extensive skin lesions that persist for at least three (3) months despite continuing
treatment as prescribed.

The Social Security Administration considers an ‘extensive skin lesion’ to be those that involve multiple body sites or ‘critical areas,’ and result in a ‘very serious limitation.’ For example, a skin lesion that results in a very serious limitation includes, but is not limited to:

a) Skin lesions that interfere with the motion of your joins and that very seriously limit(s) your use of more than one (1) extremity, such as two (2) upper extremities, two (2) lower extremities, or one (1) upper and one (1) lower extremity.
b) Skin lesions on the palms of both your hands that very seriously limit your ability to do fine and gross motor movements.
c) Skin Lesions on the soles of both your feet, the perineum, or both inguinal areas that very seriously limit your ability to ambulate.

In addition the Social Security Administration will base its assessment on the severity of your dermatitis on the extent of your skin lesions, the frequency of flare-ups, how your symptoms (including pain) limit you, the extent of your treatment, and how your treatment affects you.

Also, if you have skin lesions but they do not meet the requirements of any of the listings, the Social Security Administration must still consider if you have an impairment that prevents you from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. For example, if you have frequent flare-ups, the Social Security Administration may find that your impairment(s) is/are medically equal to one of the Skin Disorder, or other, listings even though you have some periods during which your condition is in remission. Furthermore, the Social Security Administration will consider how frequent and serious your flare-ups are, how quickly they resolve, and how you function between flare-ups in order to determine whether you have been unable, or can be expected, to do any substantial gainful activity for a continuous period of at least twelve (12) months. Thus, the Social Security Administration will consider the frequency of your flare-ups when determining whether or not you have a severe impairment, as well as in assessing your residual functional capacity.

The Social Security Administration will consider your symptoms (such as pain) as a factor contributing to the severity of your skin disorder(s). The Social Security Administration will also assesses the effects of medication, therapy, surgery, and any other form of treatment you receive when determining the severity and duration of your impairment(s). While skin disorders frequently respond to treatment, response to treatment can vary widely and in some cases, conditions may become resistant to treatment. Furthermore, some treatments can have adverse side effects that result in functional limitations. Thus, in order to assess the effects of your treatment, the Social Security Administration will consider:

  1. the effects of continued treatment as prescribed by evaluating if there is any
    improvement in the symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings of your disorder, and if you experience side effects that result in functional limitations. To assess the effects of your treatment, the Social Security Administration will consider:
    1. The treatment prescribed (i.e., type, dosage, method, and frequency of administration of medication or therapy);
    2. Your response to the treatment;
    3. Any adverse effects of the treatment; and
    4. The expected duration of the treatment.
  2. because treatment or the effects of treatment may be temporary, in most cases sufficient time must elapse to allow the Social Security Administration to evaluate the impact and expected duration of treatment and its side effects. Specifically, you must follow continuing treatment as prescribed for at least three (3) months before your impairment can be determined to meet the requirements of a skin disorder listing under 8.05. Thus, in evaluating the overall severity of your impairment, the Social Security Administration will consider your specific response to the treatment.

In addition, when assessing an impairment that may affect the skin and another body system, the Social Security Administration will first evaluate the predominant feature of your impairment under the appropriate body system. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Tuberous sclerosis primarily affecting the brain. The predominant features of
    seizures, which the Social Security Administration evaluates under the neurological 11.00 listings, and development delays or other mental disorders, which the Social Security Administration evaluates under the mental disorder 12.00 listings.
  2. Malignant tumors of the skin (for example, malignant melanomas) are cancers, or neoplastic disease, which the Social Security Administration evaluates under the 13.00 listings.
  3. Autoimmune disorders and other immune system disorders (for example, lupus, scleroderma, HIV infection, and Sjogren’s syndrome) often involve more than one body system. These disorders are found in the 14.00 listings.
  4. Disfigurement or deformity resulting in skin lesions may result in loss of sight, hearing, speech, and the ability to chew (mastication). The Social Security Administration will evaluate these impairments and their effects under the special senses and speech listings in 2.00 and the digestive system listings in 5.00. Facial disfigurement or other physical deformities may also have effects we evaluate under the mental disorder listings in 12.00, such as when they affect mood or social functioning.

If the Social Security Administration determines that your Dermatitis does not meet or medically equal a listed impairment, the Social Security Administration will continue to evaluate your claim using the sequential evaluation process in order to determine what functional limitations, both exertional (physical) and non-exertional (mental/cognitive), result from your dermatitis, or other, impairment(s).

As you can see, your medical records are vital to your claim for SSDI benefits and/or SSI payments. If your impairments do not meet or equal a listing, we must look to what functional limitations result from your impairments and then compare your restrictions with the demands of any past relevant work you have performed in the last fifteen (15) years. Furthermore, depending on your age: 18-49, 50-54, 55-59, or 60+; your education: marginal (6th grade or less), limited (7th grade to 11th grade), or high school graduate or more (12th/HS graduate+); and the degree to which your impairment(s) limit(s) you, you may or may not be found disabled.

As a result, your medical records (and medical treatment) are vital to your claim for SSDI benefits and/or SSI payments for not only the Social Security Administration but also any attorney reviewing the merits of your case.

 

 

The information contained herein is for general information purposes only and is not meant for your reliance on, or to form a basis, for any legal, business, or other decisions. As always, if you have any legal questions, consult an attorney.