Can I Work With Chronic Skin Diseases?

Chronic skin diseases are defined as any skin disease that is long-lasting or recurring. Caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungus; skin diseases affect many people at some point in their lives, but are not usually long term.

Bacteria can cause chronic skin diseases in the form of cellulitis, folliculitis, impetigo, and erythrasma. These are most often treated with antibiotics. Fungal diseases grow well in moist, warm areas (think athlete’s foot) and are usually treatable with anti-fungal creams. Ring worm and intertrigo are a few of the more resilient fungal infections. Chronic skin diseases caused by viruses include herpes and chicken pox. Chicken pox afflicts most people once, but in some, can reoccur later in life as shingles.

Chronic skin diseases vary in their severity and affect individuals differently. Some people suffer only minor rashes; such as those associated with psoriasis, while others are afflicted with large lesions that are painful and significantly impair their ability to live a normal life.

If you are a person with more severe symptoms that significantly impair your ability to work, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability, as chronic skin diseases are covered in the list of impairments the SSA uses to determine eligibility. In addition to the general requirements to qualify for Social Security Disability, you need to be officially diagnosed with one of the chronic skin diseases and your symptoms must meet the requirements specified in Section 8.04 of the SSA’s guidelines.

Chronic Skin Diseases and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you will be required to prove with medical records that you have infected skin (lesions) on multiple areas of your body that these lesions cover parts of your body that are vital for movement, and that you suffer from frequent flare-ups. You will also need to prove that your treatments and medication are not sufficiently alleviating your symptoms. Specifically, the SSA requires proof that your condition has not improved after three months, in spite of using prescribed treatment.

The SSA’s guidelines for chronic skin diseases require a person to prove that their disease makes them unfit for light, medium and heavy work in order to qualify for Social Security Disability. All levels of physical work require some level of lifting, bending, walking and standing. Lesions of diseased skin on your hands, feet, legs, and around your joints may make it difficult to perform any of these. You will need to have documentation from your doctors listing your restrictions, based on the effect chronic skin diseases have on your ability to perform basic job functions.

Chronic Skin Disease and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work

Even if your condition greatly hinders or makes you unable to perform physical work, you may still be rejected for Social Security Disability if you are able to perform sedentary job functions. Sedentary jobs require very little lifting, bending, walking, or standing, but require greater hand and finger dexterity as well as the ability to remain seated for long periods of time. Chronic skin diseases that affect your hands, or cover areas that would be irritated with long periods of sitting may leave you unable to perform sedentary work. Sedentary jobs also require more specialized skill sets that you may not be qualified for.

It can be very difficult to deal with the effects of chronic skin diseases, let alone the likelihood that the SSA will deny your initial request for Social Security Disability. The hard truth is that, unless symptoms are proven to be very severe, your claim will probably be denied. However, you will be able to appeal the decision, which greatly improves your odds of being awarded benefits. The best approach would be to hire the services of an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer, as they will know exactly how to handle your case.