Hidradenitis Suppurativa, which is also commonly called simply HS, is a skin disease that primarily affects the areas of the skin in which sweat glands or sebaceous glands are present. These areas include the inner thighs, buttocks and groin, as well as the underarms, breasts and upper back. HS causes the chronic development of cysts or abscesses and may also result in gland infections. Cysts and infected glands can be large or small, but often lead to pain and discomfort regardless of size. Surgical removal of cysts is often necessary and intervention is often required to drain then and alleviate pain as well. Additionally, the disease often leads to the development of clusters of cysts and chronic scarring and pus formation, especially in the underarms, inner thighs and groin.
There is no cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa, and while some people are able to live with the condition, and even experience lasting periods of remission, some patients have constant symptoms and ever worsening flare ups of the disease. The severity of the disease and the frequency and duration of symptoms determines if you’re able to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with this condition.
Applying for SSD with Hidradenitis Suppurativa
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize Hidradenitis Suppurativa as a disease that can potentially be disabling. In fact, the condition is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, which is the manual of conditions that can possibly lead to long term or permanent disability. Hidradenitis Suppurativa appears in the Blue Book under Section 8: Skin Conditions, and has a dedicated listing under subsection 8.06.
According to the SSA’s eligibility criteria, in order to qualify for SSD benefits with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, your medical records must show that:
- You have extensive skin lesions that involve both your underarms (axillae), both side of the groin (inguinal areas), or in the perineum (area around the genitals and anus), AND
- Your skin lesions must last a minimum of three months even while undergoing continuous treatments as prescribed by your physician.
In addition to meeting these listed eligibility requirements, your Hidradenitis Suppurativa must also prevent you from getting and maintaining gainful employment either in your traditional field of work or in any other job for which you’d be qualified based on your skills, education, work experience, and taking into consideration the limitations that your Hidradenitis Suppurativa places on you.
Medical Documentation to prove Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Proving this requires extensive medical records as well as other documentation, including:
- Statements from your treating physician
- Required forms from the SSA about your work history, medications, and “functional capacity”
- Other documentation as required
If necessary, in order to make a determination on your claim for SSD benefits, the SSA may require an independent medical evaluation of your condition. If this is initiated, you must attend a medical appointment with a physician contracted by the SSA. Failing to attend the appointment will lead to denial of SSD benefits.
Other Conditions associated with Hidradenitis Suppurativa
In addition to the previously mentioned symptoms, your Hidradenitis Suppurativa may also cause:
- open wounds that result from burst skin lesions
- bacterial infections
- Cellulitis, which is inflammation in the deeper tissues around cysts and abscesses
- Depression, due to the chronic pain and other issues that come with the condition.
All of these additional symptoms and complications of your Hidradenitis Suppurativa must be documented in your medical records and will only help strengthen your claim for SSD benefits.
Getting Help with Your Hidradenitis Suppurativa SSD Application
In order to qualify for SSD benefits, your Hidradenitis Suppurativa must either meet the criteria of the Blue Book listing, or it must match the listing of another listed condition. In some instances, even if your Hidradenitis Suppurativa doesn’t meet either of these eligibility tests, you may still qualify to receive benefits if you’re able to prove your condition severely limits your “residual functional capacity”. In order to establish this, your application for benefits must include the same substantial medical and other documentation to support your argument that you are in fact disabled by your Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
Regardless of how your claim is approached, medical records are a major part of proving your SSD claim. You will need to work closely with your doctor to document your condition, your medical treatments, and the ongoing affects of your Hidradenitis Suppurativa on your ability to work and to function daily in your personal life.
You will also want to consider securing legal assistance from either a Social Security advocate or disability attorney familiar with the SSD application and review processes in claims such as yours. They will be able to help you fill out your application and all other required forms and may be able to increase your chances of being found eligible for disability benefits as well.