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Ichthyosis and Social Security Disability

Ichthyosis is a rare medical condition that affects the skin. In severe cases, Ichthyosis can be very debilitating and difficult to live with. Those who suffer from extreme cases of Ichthyosis are often unable to work due to the symptoms the condition causes. The inability to earn an income combined with mounting medical bills can wreak havoc on an individual's financial well-being. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may offset some of the financial burden caused by the Ichthyosis condition. If you are living with Ichthyosis and are wondering whether or not your condition qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information may help you through the disability application process.

Ichthyosis - Condition and Symptoms

Ichthyosis is a term given to a broad range of skin disorders. Many of the skin disorders that fall under the Ichthyosis definition are genetic in nature. All forms of Ichthyosis are characterized by dry, scaly, flaky or thickened skin.

The word “Ichthyosis” derives from the Greek word “ichthys”, which means “fish”. This is due to the way the skin looks when a person suffers from the condition. The flaky, scaly skin can resemble fish scales, hence the name of the condition.

The severity of Ichthyosis will vary from case to case. Some individuals will suffer only mild symptoms while others may experience extreme cases of Ichthyosis, such as harlequin Ichthyosis. In the most severe cases, an Ichthyosis condition may even be life-threatening. Most of the people who suffer from an Ichthyosis condition suffer from the variety of Ichthyosis known as Ichthyosis vulgaris. This type of Ichthyosis makes up more than 95 percent of documented Ichthyosis cases. Most of these individuals will not qualify for disability benefits. If you suffer from a severe form of Ichthyosis, however, you may be entitled to disability benefits.

In a healthy individual the body constantly renews the surface of the skin. As new skin cells are created, older ones shed from the surface of the skin. When an individual suffers from Ichthyosis, the balance is interrupted because the skin is either creating too many skin cells or because the old skin cells do not shed properly. The resulting accumulation of cells causes thick flakes of skin to develop, resembling the scales of a fish.

In most cases, the effects of Ichthyosis are mostly cosmetic in nature. In severe cases, however, the Ichthyosis may interfere with the body's ability to protect itself against infection, regulate its temperature and may cause dehydration. Symptoms of Ichthyosis often include body odor, itching of the skin, wax buildup in the ears and a severe dryness and flaking of the skin. These symptoms will often be worse in the winter months and in dryer climates.

Ichthyosis is often diagnosed through a physical examination, although a biopsy may be ordered to conclude a doctor's findings. While there is no cure for the condition, medications are available to assist in maintaining the moisture levels of the skin and to help the body shed older skin cells.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Ichthyosis

Fortunately, the Ichthyosis condition is included in the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s listing of impairments. This listing is what examiners refer to when reviewing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. The condition of Ichthyosis is covered under Section 8.02 of the impairment listings, which can make qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits easier.

If you suffer from Ichthyosis and your condition results in extensive skin lesions that persist for 3 months or more, even though all prescribed treatment has been followed, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits under Section 8.02 of the disability listings. You will have to prove, however, that your disability prevents you from being able to perform any work activity. This can be done by providing the SSA with comprehensive medical records and statements from your treating physicians during the application process.

Ichthyosis and Your Social Security Disability Case

If you are suffering from Ichthyosis and are unable to work due to the condition you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. It is important to understand, however, that only 30 percent of applications are approved at the initial stage of the application process. The remaining 70 percent of applicants must go on to file an appeal in order to obtain disability benefits.

Because cases of Ichthyosis can be complicated, it is not uncommon for an applicant suffering from the condition to have their initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits denied. If this happens, you will need to go through the disability appeal process and should consider hiring a Social Security Disability attorney to represent you during your appeal. Statistics show that individuals with legal representation during the appeal process are more likely to receive Social Security Disability benefits than those who do not have a disability attorney representing them in their disability claim. A consultation with an attorney prior to filing for benefits will increase your chances of being approved at the initial claim stage as well.