What exactly is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma (skleer-oh-DUR-muh) is a rare, chronic rheumatic disease. It can be localized or systemic and it involves tightening of the skin and connective tissues. It is estimated that scleroderma affects approximately 300,000 females, and it more common in women than men. Females who are affected are generally between the ages of 30 to 50 years old.
Systemic scleroderma is the most serious and can harm the heart, lungs and kidneys. There is an estimated 75,000 current cases of systemic scleroderma currently in the United States.
Symptoms of Scleroderma
- The symptoms of scleroderma will depend on whether the claimant's condition is localized or systemic. Systemic scleroderma may cause a condition called Raynaud's phenomenon which leads to constriction of the small blood vessels in the claimant's hands and feet, generating numbness or pain.
- Claimants, whose systemic condition affects their digestion, may suffer from acid reflex and the inability to absorb nutrients or damage to their esophagus. Other symptoms can include skin changes of the hands and fingers, tight skin on the face and hands, shiny skin or patches of skin which appear to have thickened.
- If a claimant has localized scleroderma they are more likely to experience changes in their skin tone which can create patches of spots on their body.
Winning SSDI or SSI for Scleroderma
To win SSDI or SSI benefits for any condition an applicant must prove that their condition eithermeets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (a listing of all the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling) or prove that their condition is so severe they cannot work. This can be difficult to do, especially with a localized skin condition.
Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Scleroderma and winning SSDI or SSI.
The Social Security Administration does have a listing for severe skin conditions in the Social Security Administration's Listing of Impairments under 8.00 Skin Disorders. Skin disorders which have listings include Ichthyosis, Bullous disease, chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, dermatitis, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, burns and Genetic photosensitivity disorders.
It may be possible to prove that your scleroderma is meets the listing under 8.05 Dermatitis which requires "extensive skin lesions that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed." The SSA includes psoriasis, dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, and allergic contact dermatitis as conditions that may meet the listing.
Claimants who suffer from systemic scleroderma may also be able to prove that the symptoms such as digestive issues may meet another listing. If the scleroderma causes immune system disorders a claimant may meet the SSA listing under 14.00 Immune System Disorders, 14.04 Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).
Winning SSDI and SSI benefits through a medical vocational allowance for Scleroderma
Claimants whose condition does not meet or exceed a listing will have a more difficult time winning SSDI or SSI benefits, especially if they are younger. Talking to a disability lawyer is generally recommended so they can review your medical history and medical evidence and determine what evidence you will need to prove that you cannot continue to work your old job, current job or retrain for new work.
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