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Porphyrias and SSA Disability Benefits

Porphyrias are a group or classification of health disorders which affect the skin, the nervous system or a combination of the two. These conditions basically affect the body’s ability to produce heme which is found in hemoglobin in the blood and carries oxygen to the entire body.  The failure to produce heme can cause illness and porphyrin or its precursors to accumulate in a claimant’s tissues.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Acute photosensitivity reaction"]English: Acute photosensitivity reaction in EP...[/caption]

As mentioned above, porphyria which affects the nervous system can include ALAD porphyria, acute intermittent porphyria, hereditary coproporphyria, and variegate porphyria. Cutaneous porphyrias include congenital erythropoietic porphyria, porphyria cutanea tarda, hepatoerythropoietic porphyria, hereditary coproporphyria, variegate porphyria, and erythropoietic protoporphyria.

Symptoms of porphyrias


Symptoms of porphyria can be triggered by environmental, mental or emotional stress. Consuming drugs or alcohol can also exacerbate the symptoms. The most serious symptoms are caused by acute porphyria which can include anxiety, stomach pain, diarrhea, fever, liver issues, trouble breathing, personality changes, seizures, paralysis, hallucinations and constipation. Claimants who suffer from cutaneous porphyria will have skin disorders which cause fragile skin, skin which easily blisters or issues with pigmentation.

Winning SSDI or SSI for Porphyrias


Regardless of your health condition, the SSA will first determine whether a claimant meets the nonmedical requirements of SSI or SSDI. For SSDI this means the claimant will need to have sufficient work credits to be considered insured, and their condition must be expected to last for 12 continuous months. For SSI the claimant must be aged, blind or disabled and not be able to work for at least 12 continuous months. Additionally, they must meet the income and resource limitations of the SSI program.

Determining disability status for SSDI and SSI for Porphyrias


The Social Security Administration has two methods of determining whether a claimant is disabled: is there condition and corresponding symptoms listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments (or does it “meet or exceed” a listing) or do they have the residual capacity to work (this consideration is made through a medical vocational allowance).

There are several listings for porphyrias, and the listing which is used to evaluate your condition will depend on the type of porphyria. For instance, familial porphyria or  erythropoietic protoporphyria are considered photosensitive disorders and can be evaluated under 8.0 Skin Disorders, Section 8.07 Genetic Photosensitive Disorders.

Under this listing the SSA will determine if your condition has caused “extensive skin lesions that have lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or you do not have the ability to function outside of a “highly protective environment for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”

Other acute porphyrias which cause seizures or paralysis can be evaluated under separate listings which correspond to your symptoms. For instance, if you are experiencing seizures you may meet or exceed a listing under 11.00 Neurological.

Winning SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance


If your condition does not meet or exceed a listing you will need sufficient evidence to prove you do not have the residual capacity to work. Through the medical vocational allowance process, the SSA will review your medical records and work history and determine whether you can continue to work your current job, previous job or retrain for new work given your age, education, work history, and health condition.
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