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Genital Herpes and SSA Disability Benefits

Genital herpes, which is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., is generally caused by herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2). Individuals who have had physical contact including kissing, sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal sex), or skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner may develop the condition within two to twenty days after the infection. Symptoms can be mild, in fact, many individuals may be unaware they have the infection for some time, although other individuals may have debilitating pain that causes flu-like conditions.
Herpes simplex virions.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

As mentioned above, some individuals do not realize they have herpes while others may experience a variety of symptoms. Others who are infected may have the virus but it remains dormant, not exhibiting any symptoms. If you do have symptoms they can include:

  1. Pain and itching

  2. Red or tiny white blisters

  3. Bleeding ulcers

  4. Scabs

  5. Sores on the cervix, buttocks, vaginal area or anus (women)

  6. Sores on the penis, buttocks, anus, thighs or scrotum (men)

Additional symptoms can include muscle pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. It is estimated that one in four women and one in four men have herpes, although the numbers could be inaccurate because some individuals are not aware they have the condition.

Determining disability for a physical health disorder

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods for determining whether a claimant’s condition is so severe it is disabling. The first method is to determine if their impairment “meets or exceeds” a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments. This list, also called the Blue Book, outlines the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling (assuming the claimant meets the nonmedical requirements of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)).

The second method used to determine disability, if the claimant’s condition does not “meet or exceed” a listing in the SSA Blue Book, is to determine if the claimant has the residual capacity to work given their age, work history, education and health condition. This process is called a medical vocational allowance. Generally, it will be easier to win SSDI or SSI benefits through this process for older claimants.

Genital Herpes and proving the inability to work

There is not a specific listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments for Genitals Herpes, although it could be possible for some claimants to prove their condition “meets or exceeds” a listing.

This will leave the option of winning SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance. Realistically, it will also be VERY difficult to prove that you do not have the residual ability to work with genital herpes. The bottom line is that millions of Americans have this condition and are able to function in a social and work environment.

It will be difficult for most claimants with genital herpes to convince the SSA that they do not have the ability to work for 12 continuous months, especially if they are getting proper medical treatment for their condition.

Now, if your genital herpes is just one of many health conditions that you have and it reduces your ability to work, it should be included on your SSI or SSDI application, and the SSA will consider its debilitating effects on your health in conjunction with your disorders. If you have no other health disorders it will be almost impossible to win SSI or SSDI with this condition alone.
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