August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month
The month of August has been designated for National Psoriasis Awareness and is intended to bring attention to this autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 7.5 million Americans.
Psoriasis comes in several forms and some can be quite debilitating. The severity of the individual case and the frequency and duration of symptoms determine when a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim can be successfully filed with a diagnosis of psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s own immune system malfunctions, causing the development of symptoms and the chronic nature of the disease. With psoriasis, the immune system communicates faulty messages to the skin cells, causing them to grow too quickly and not shed appropriately.
While there are several forms of the condition, plaque psoriasis is the most common, and results in often widespread, raised, red, inflamed, itchy, and sometimes painful skin lesions or plaques. There is no cure for the disease. Available treatments are limited, often ineffective, and many carry substantial side effects, particularly those that utilize immunosuppressant medications.
The symptoms of the condition can be very severe, resulting in physical pain, discomfort, and other physical limitations, not to mention potential psychological and emotional challenges due to the often disfiguring nature of the disease. Sufferers commonly experience depression and anxiety, and frequently limit social interactions in order to avoid the “shame” or “humiliation” that comes with any disfiguring ailment.
In addition to the symptoms of the disease itself, those who suffer from psoriasis also have an increased risk of developing other chronic illnesses and even several life-threatening conditions. Psoriasis sufferers are more prone to diabetes and cardiovascular ailments, and are more likely to experience stroke and cancer. There is also a form of arthritis prominent in psoriasis patients – psoriatic arthritis – which causes pain and swelling in the tendons and joints and can be quite disabling on its own and even more so when combined with other psoriasis symptoms.
All of these factors combined make psoriasis an inherently disabling conditions for some patients. Again, the severity of symptoms and form of psoriasis an individual has may affect his or her ability to be approved for SSD benefits; however, there are many instances where patients who suffer from this condition do meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) eligibility criteria.
The SSA does recognize psoriasis as a condition that can potentially result in long term or permanent disability. When applying for SSD benefits with any disability, you must meet general eligibility criteria and condition-specific criteria.
The general eligibility criteria include:
- The inability to continue to work in the same career field in which you have historically,
- The inability to obtain and maintain gainful employment in another career field, given your education, work experience and other circumstantial factors,
- and the overall inability to maintain gainful employment in general, which the SSA defines as earning at least $1,010 per month.
The condition-specific criteria in the case of psoriasis include:
- The presence of extensive skin lesions that serious affect your ability to perform everyday work-related activities,
- The lasting nature of the condition – skin lesions must be present for three months or longer,
- and the presence of psoriasis symptoms for three or more months in spite of receiving continuous, and medically appropriate treatment.
It is important to note that applicants for SSD should work closely with their treating physician in order to ensure they receive medical treatments deemed “appropriate” by the SSA. The failure to undergo therapies that are consider best practice in treating psoriasis can result in your claim being denied no matter how severe your symptoms may be or the toll they take on your everyday ability to work or perform other essential functions.
Working with a Social Security lawyer familiar with handling disability claims based on a diagnosis of psoriasis can also be beneficial. He or she can help you collect the appropriate documentation for supporting your claim and may be able to increase your chances of being found eligible for SSD benefits as well.
- Do You Qualify?
- Application Process
- Medical Conditions
- Disability Resources