The Social Security Administration evaluates disability claims on a case-by-case basis. Since disability benefits are meant as a way to help offset the financial needs of people who are unable to work, it is the SSA’s responsibility to investigate claims and determine whether the claimant’s disorder or injury is indeed debilitating enough to keep him from working and whether the situation warrants disability payments. Since the SSA receives thousands of claims each month, it has developed a classification system for approved disorders in order to efficiently investigate and evaluate the validity of each claim. This system is known as the SSA “blue book.” 

This “book” is basically a list of recognized injuries, disorders, and diseases that have been previously determined to be debilitating enough to qualify for disability. This list allows the SSA panel to categorize applicants based on their specific issues in order to more easily determine if benefits are needed. One of these ailment classifications focuses on skin disorders and how they can impact financial stability.

Skin Disorders Recognized in the Blue Book

According to a National Institute of Health study, nearly 13% of all diseases seen by family physicians are skin related. An estimated one out of every three people living in the United States has some sort of skin issue. Although a majority of sufferers have minor irritations, many victims suffer from acute pain which limits their ability to work and be financially independent. This is where the SSA steps in.

The SSA disability panel will evaluate skin disorders that may result from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathological processes, and compare them with its blue book listings of accepted ailments. This list includes:

  • Ichthyosis: genetic skin disorders (of which there are 28 types), that produce extremely dry, scaly, flaky, or thickened skin. Severe types can cause the skin to painfully crack, bleed, and deteriorate.
  • Bullous diseases: autoimmune diseases that cause painfully large blisters or lesions to form on the skin. These blisters can grow to be as large as three inches in diameter and generally form on the arms and legs, but have known to be found on the chest and abdomen as well as in the mouth. Eruptions or breakage of the blisters can be extremely painful as well as unsanitary.
  • Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes: infections, lesions, or ulcers of the skin or mucus membranes (including inside your nose, mouth, or throat) that last longer than three months.
  • Severe dermatitis: any type of disorder that causes severe flaking, itching, swelling, or redness of the skin, including psoriasis, dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa: a chronic skin condition that features painful pea-sized to marble-sized lumps under the skin. Lumps typically develop where skin rubs together such as armpits, groin, between the buttocks, and under the breasts. Lumps may break open and drain foul-smelling pus.
  • Genetic photosensitivity disorders: skin disorders classified by extreme sensitivity to sunlight, which can cause painful lesions, burns, ulcers, and rashes.
  • Severe burns: any burn that leaves extensive scarring or lesions on the skin which may prevent the victim from performing work duties.

Keeping it Together for Your Future’s Sake

Although the SSA uses this list as a guideline, other forms of debilitating skin disorders or injuries can be considered for benefit approval. On the other hand, just because you have a listed disorder doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be automatically approved. This is why it is in your best interest to have the support and knowledge of an experienced disability lawyer on your side. Allow us to help you secure your future. Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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