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Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a serious skin disease that tragically is often misdiagnosed. Because HS usually begins as pimple-like bumps on the skin, many victims (and doctors, too) think their condition is acne, ingrown hair, or boils. As the disease worsens, the pimple-like bumps most commonly erupt in the underarm or groin areas—places that everyday pimples typically do not appear—and grow deep into the skin becoming very painful. To make matters worse, they often rupture, leaking bloodstained pus.
“As the deep bumps heal, scars can form,” the American Academy of Dermatology reports. “Some people develop tunnel-like tracts under their skin. As the skin continues to heal and scar, the scars thicken. When thick scars form in the underarm, moving the arm can be difficult. Thick scars in the groin area can make walking difficult.”
“While medical experts say that HS is relatively rare—affecting maybe one to two percent of Americans—the actual number of those living with the disease may be way underreported, because those with HS are often embarrassed to talk about their condition,” says Nash attorney Demetra Geller. “Not only are the areas of the body where the disease strikes highly personal, but for some individuals, there is a foul odor associated with the condition.”
There is no cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa, but some who have the disease can experience long periods of remission. For others, however, their life may be characterized by constant pain and ever-worsening symptoms. If your HS prevents you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes Hidradenitis Suppurativa as a disease that can be potentially disabling. In determining your eligibility for benefits the SSA will evaluate the extent of your skin lesions, how often you have flare-ups, how your symptoms (especially pain) limit you, what treatment you are receiving, and how your treatment affects you.
The Social Security Administration maintains a list of conditions with detailed requirements for when the SSA should judge a mental or physical condition to be disabling. If an individual matches the requirements in the listings (also called the “Blue Book”) they can qualify for disability payments. Hidradenitis Suppurativa appears in the Blue Book under Section 8: Skin Conditions, and has a dedicated listing under subsection 8.06. According to the “Blue Book”, to qualify for SSD benefits for Hidradenitis Suppurativa, your medical records must show “extensive skin lesions involving both axillae [underarm], both inguinal areas [both sides of the groin] or the perineum [around the gentials and anus] that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed.”
However, Nash attorney Dan Rosen cautions that “even when you meet these listed eligibility requirements, the path to winning benefits is not easy to navigate. The lawyers in our firm have fought hard and won Social Security disability benefits for many clients with HS, because we have conclusively proven that the requirements of Listing 8.06 have been met (and backed this up with extensive medical evidence). Even if the listing is not satisfied, we have successfully demonstrated that Hidradenitis Suppurativa prevented our clients from sustaining competitive employment either in their usual field of work or any other job in the national economy given their age, education, and work experience, taking into consideration the limitations caused by the disease.”
“I want every person who is unable to work due to Hidradenitis Suppurativa and is considering applying for Social Security disability benefits to know they can talk to us,” Nash attorney Demetra Geller says. “We know HS can often be a personally sensitive issue, but do not hide your condition, do not be embarrassed, and do not be stigmatized by this disease. We have seen many, many clients with HS. We are here to help you get the benefits you have earned.”