Many people regard having a skin condition as an annoyance or hindrance to looking flawless. However, if you suffer from a skin condition, you probably know that the reality is far different and more serious. Beyond aesthetics, psoriasis often causes the skin around joints, such as elbows and knees, to become white and scaly. The skin also can become inflamed and embedded with painful lesions.
If you are among the 2% of the U.S. population living with psoriasis, you can likely relate to the frequent itching, joint pain, and skin infections that others affected by psoriasis experience. And if your condition is severe, you also may experience arthritis and other skin complications that can interfere with your ability to work. However, there is good news: if your psoriasis prevents you from working and is expected to last for at least a year (or result in death), you can apply for disability benefits.
Let’s explore how to determine if you qualify for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI) due to your condition, as well as how to prepare a strong, compelling application to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
How Psoriasis Can Classify as a Disability
While mild psoriasis cases affect the skin, more severe cases can manifest symptoms of inflammation, itching, and joint pain that can limit the physical activity many jobs require. Psoriasis can also lead to other long-term conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Psoriasis disability also can cause a form of arthritis referred to as psoriatic arthritis. If you suffer from this condition, you’ve probably experienced frequent joint pains and limited mobility.
Qualifying for Psoriasis Disability Benefits
If you have psoriasis, you can qualify for disability benefits in two different ways. You can either qualify through a disability listing in the SSA bluebook, or you can qualify for benefits based on your inability to work.
Qualifying for Psoriasis Disability Benefits Under the SSA Listing
The main function of the SSA is to provide disability benefits in time to those who need them most. The SSA, therefore, maintains a specific list of major conditions that can automatically qualify someone for benefits. These conditions are typically severe enough to make applications undergo expedited processing and automatic approval for either SSI or SSDI.
While the SSA currently does not have a separate bluebook listing for psoriasis, it does categorize the condition under the section 8.05 listing for dermatitis. If your psoriasis condition presents symptoms that match the listing, you can automatically be approved for benefits. The listing specifies that:
- You must have a medical diagnosis of either psoriasis or dermatitis
- You are experiencing extensive lesions on your skin lasting more than 3 months, and
- The lesions you experience are not responsive to any kind of treatment
Extensive skin lesions are categorized as those that are located on more than one area of the body, or occurring in an area of the body that affects how one functions. This includes having lesions present on critical joints, such as your elbows or knees, that prevent you from properly walking, bending or lifting; lesions on your palms that prevent you from using your hands; or lesions in the groin area.
If you don’t qualify for psoriasis under the dermatitis listing, you may qualify for psoriasis disability under other related SSA disability listings, such as:
- Inflammatory arthritis (section 14.09)
- Major dysfunction of a joint (section 1.02)
Qualifying for Psoriasis Disability Benefits Under a RFC Analysis
Another way you can qualify for psoriasis disability benefits is if you can demonstrate that the condition is preventing you from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. As part of your application, the SSA will carry out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) analysis. This analysis is meant to determine your ability to engage in basic physical activities that are required in most workplaces.
The SSA will use your medical records to determine your ability to walk, lift, write, push, and engage in a number of other physical activities. If your medical condition inhibits you from engaging in these functions, the SSA can either attempt to determine other work that you can do or decide to grant you benefits based on your inability to work.
Preparing a Strong Application
Based on the strict requirements for psoriasis benefits, you need to keep detailed medical records about your condition to make a strong case to the SSA. Make sure the records show all of your attempts to seek treatment and how they have or haven’t worked.
In addition, seeking the guidance of disability experts can help you submit a compelling application to the SSA.