If you have psoriasis so severely that it impacts your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The program pays monthly benefits to those who become disabled if they have paid in enough taxes to the SSA and earned a sufficient number of credits.
If you qualify for monthly benefits, you may have dependents who are also eligible to receive benefits. While psoriasis is known by many people simply as a skin condition, it has many symptoms. An autoimmune disease, it is caused by malfunctions within your immune system. It is a chronic condition that is sometimes disabling because the immune system attacks healthy skin cells and sends faulty communication signals to your existing skin cells as well as those that are developing.
Because of the erroneous communications, your skin cells will grow too fast and not shed when are supposed to do so, resulting the in condition’s primary symptoms, which include redness of the skin, inflammation, itching, pain, and discomfort. The symptoms can be very severe, resulting in severe physical pain and discomfort, which in turn can result in physical limitations. You can also suffer from emotional and psychological symptoms because the condition has a disfiguring nature.
Because of your psoriasis, you may suffer from depression and anxiety. You may have the tendency to limit your public and social interactions because you are embarrassed or feel humiliated because of the obvious physical changes caused by the disease. Psoriasis is often accompanied by other serious, chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Psoriasis has a form of arthritis that is known as psoriatic arthritis, which is an advanced form of the common skin disorder.
Psoriasis impacts people very differently, but if your case is severe you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. Because the condition is chronic and has so many symptoms, it can be very debilitating and impact your daily activities, as well as your ability to continue working. If your case is one of the more advanced cases, you may be eligible for benefits.
The Cost of Treating Psoriasis
According to Everyday Health, a tube of topical psoriasis medications can cost from $500 to $600. Biologics, a new treatment class for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 each year. Treatments can be expensive with health insurance because of the coinsurance and copays required.
During 2015, the costs of treating psoriasis in the United States was $135 billion and those costs were expected to increase because of medical expenses such as doctor’s appointments and treatments, as well as hospitalizations and medications. The average individual may pay out anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per year treating the disease.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Using the Blue Book
The SSA uses a medical manual with listings of commonly disabling medical conditions. This book is called the Blue Book. Psoriasis is included under Section 8.00: Skin Disorders and is specifically listed under Subsection 8.05, which is Dermatitis.
If you apply for SSDI benefits with any disability, you have to meet the eligibility criteria and criteria that are specific for the criteria that are set forth by the SSA. For psoriasis, the general eligibility requirements that you must meet include:
- You are unable to work in the same industry in which you have worked in the past.
- The inability to get and keep gainful employment in another industry, based on your education, work experience, medical symptoms, and other factors.
- The inability to get and maintain gainful employment in general, which is defined by the SSA as earning a minimum of $1,010 each month.
There are several eligibility criteria that are condition specific for psoriasis when seeking SSDI benefits:
- The presence of extensive or widespread skin lesions or plaques that seriously impair your ability to handle daily work-related activities.
- The ongoing chronic nature of your condition, which means your skin lesions or plaques have to be minimum for at least 3 months at a time.
- The timeframe of your symptoms flares, with psoriasis symptoms lasting for periods of at least 3 months with continuous and consistent use of medical treatment regimens that are approved for such conditions, such as steroids and autoimmune medications.
Getting SSDI Approval with a Medical-Vocational Allowance
If you do not meet the requirements that are set forth in the Blue Book, you can still be approved for SSDI using a medical-vocational allowance with a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. This form clearly details your symptoms, treatments and their side effects, and the limitations that you have per your medical providers.
The RFC may indicate that you have to reposition yourself hourly because of skin lesions, or how you cannot walk for long periods because of the arthritic pain. You may also suffer from severe pain because of your skin lesions or plaques, which leaves you unable to bend, stand, or make repetitive motions.
In addition to psoriasis, this approach will consider any other medical conditions that you may have. Your age, educational level, work experience, and any transferable skills are considered to determine if you can participate in lighter duty, more sedentary work. By seeing how your overall functioning is impacted by your health and other factors, the Disability Determination Services may see that you are indeed qualified for SSDI benefits.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Case for Disability for Psoriasis
Many medical tests are required to diagnosis psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Among these tests are blood work, x-rays, MRI or CAT scans, urinalysis, and ongoing physical observations and examinations. These tests results should be included along with your medical records for your disability application.
The SSA may order, at their expense, a medical evaluation with the doctor that they choose. This is for information only to confirm your condition and your symptoms. It is not designed to provide you with medical treatment. In some cases, a mental evaluation is also ordered to determine if you are impacted by anxiety, depression, an inability to concentrate, and loss of memory.
Your disability claim could be a lengthy process, and could involve as many as two denials, which you can appeal. The final step is a hearing before an administrative law judge, who will rule whether you are fully disabled and eligible to receive SSDI benefits.