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Skin disorders, with their wide range of symptoms and impacts, can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life and ability to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the severity of these conditions and provides guidelines for evaluating them for disability benefits. For individuals in Denver, Colorado, and elsewhere, understanding these guidelines is crucial for successfully navigating the disability benefits process.

Key Skin Disorders Evaluated by the SSA

The SSA evaluates skin disorders resulting from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathological processes. These include:

  • Genetic photosensitivity disorders
  • Burns
  • Chronic conditions of the skin or mucous membranes, such as ichthyosis, bullous diseases, dermatitis, psoriasis, and hidradenitis suppurativa

Required Evidence for Evaluation

To establish a skin disorder as a medically determinable impairment, the SSA requires objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source who has examined the individual. This includes documentation of the onset, duration, frequency of exacerbations, prognosis, and the location, size, and appearance of lesions. Laboratory findings and evidence from other medically acceptable methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice are also needed.

Evaluating the Severity of Skin Disorders

The severity of skin disorders is evaluated based on:

  • The site(s) of chronic skin lesions or contractures
  • Functional limitations caused by the signs and symptoms, including pain
  • The effects of prescribed treatment on the individual’s ability to function

For conditions like xeroderma pigmentosum, the disorder itself is sufficient to meet the criteria without considering functional criteria due to the disorder’s characteristics and severity.

Treatment and Its Impact

Treatments for skin disorders vary widely in their effectiveness and side effects. The SSA evaluates all effects of treatment, including surgical treatment, medications, and therapy, on the symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings of the skin disorder, and on the individual’s ability to function. Notably, for conditions requiring ongoing treatment, such as PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A light) or biologics, the SSA may defer adjudication of the claim for six months from the start of treatment to evaluate its effectiveness.

Navigating the Disability Benefits Process

For Denver and Colorado residents dealing with skin disorders, it’s essential to provide comprehensive medical documentation and understand how the SSA evaluates these conditions. Legal professionals specializing in SSA disability benefits can offer invaluable assistance, guiding individuals through the application process and helping to present a strong case for their claim.

Remember, while navigating the complexities of SSA disability benefits for skin disorders can be challenging, with the right support and guidance, individuals can secure the benefits they need to manage their condition and improve their quality of life.