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By Diana Wade
Disability Advocate 

Can Psoriasis Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Ask the Advocate


Psoriasis, also termed, ‘psoriasis vulgaris,’ is a common, chronic, relapsing/remitting, immune-mediated skin disease characterized by red, scaly patches, papules, and plaques, which usually itch. The skin lesions associated with psoriasis may vary in severity from minor localized patches to, at its worst, complete body coverage. The disease affects 2-4% of the population and often runs in families. The patches range in size and most commonly appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, and lower back. These red plaques usually itch and are often painful and sometimes bleed.

Psoriasis currently has no cure but there are medical treatments that help. Experts believe that the disease happens when the immune system overreacts, causing inflammation and flaking of the skin. Symptoms often disappear or go into remission — even without treatment — only to return and flare up later. Most cases of psoriasis are mild and treatable, but others may require different treatment combinations before the disease is brought under control. Sometimes, psoriasis causes joints to become swollen, tender, and painful. This is called psoriatic arthritis.

It is rare that psoriasis is severe enough to prevent a person from sustaining full time work for a year or more, but it does happen.

If your psoriasis prevents you from sustaining full time work for a year or more, then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Under Social Security Medical Listing 8.05, dermatitis (psoriasis, dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, or allergic contact dermatitis), with extensive skin lesions, must persist for at least 3 months and be expected to last at least 12 months, despite continuing prescribed treatment.

Your skin condition will be assessed on the extent of your skin lesions, the frequency of flare-ups, how your symptoms and pain limit you, the extent of your treatment, how your treatment affects you, your response to treatment, your prognosis, and your ability to function. To confirm the diagnosis, the Social Security Administration may require laboratory findings, blood tests, and other evidence from acceptable medical sources consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice.


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