Can I get Social Security Disability if I have Psoriatic Arthritis or Psoriasis?
About 15% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis (or PsA). PsA is characterized by joint pain, stiffness, and swelling and can affect any part of the body. Most people develop psoriasis first, but joint problems can begin before skin lesions appear. A person who does not have psoriasis can develop PsA, but people with PsA who do not have psoriasis usually have a relative with psoriasis. Like psoriasis, people with PsA are at increased risk for other conditions such as eye problems and cardiovascular disease.
PsA can affect any joint in the body. The most common symptoms are:
- Swollen fingers and toes
- Tender, painful, or swollen joints
- Red scaly skin patches known as plaques
- Reduced range of motion of the joints
- Morning stiffness
- Lower back, upper back, and neck pain
- General fatigue
- Changes to nails, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed
There are five types of psoriatic arthritis:
- Symmetric Arthritis. Affects the same joints on both sides of the body, for example, the right and left knees.
- Asymmetric Arthritis. Occurs in any joint, not necessarily on both sides of the body.
- Distal Interphalangeal Predominant (DIP). Affects the joints of fingers and toes closest to the nails.
- Spondylitis. Involves inflammation of the spinal column.
- Arthritis Mutilans. An uncommon but severe form of PsA that affects the small joints of the hands and feet.
A person is more likely to get PsA if they:
- have psoriasis
- have a parent, brother, or sister with psoriasis
- are between the ages of 30 and 50
- have had strep throat
- have HIV
Like psoriasis, there is no existing cure for PsA and the goal of treatment is to improve symptoms like skin rash and joint inflammation. There are several different treatment options, but a typical treatment plan will include a combination of one or more of the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control joint pain and swelling.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to prevent joint damage and slow the progress of PsA.
- Biologic drugs to reduce inflammation and improve stiff and swollen joints.
- Steroid drugs to reduce inflammation in the body (usually injected into affected joints).
- Immunosuppressants to calm the overactive immune system (though not used as often now and can weaken the immune response).
- Topical treatments such as steroid creams and ointments containing forms of vitamin D-3 and vitamin A.
- Light therapy.
Though there are some differences in symptoms and treatments, good lifestyle choices can help people with psoriasis or PsA manage their condition.
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes whole grains and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Limit refined sugars, dairy products and processed foods that cause inflammation.
- Add exercise to your daily routine to keep joints moving and avoid stiffness and move in ways that protect joints (for example, lifting heavy objects with two hands).
- Manage stress through yoga, meditation or other stress-relief techniques.
- Use hot and cold packs on sore muscles and joints.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol.
- Many people with psoriasis experience self-esteem issues and depression. Talking with family or friends, or seeking professional help are valuable resources in dealing with emotional challenges caused by psoriasis.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Psoriatic Arthritis or Psoriasis. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Although psoriasis is not specifically listed as an impairment by the Social Security Administration, a person may qualify for disability if the psoriasis does not respond to treatment in three months.
8.05 Dermatitis (for example, psoriasis, dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis), with extensive skin lesions that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed.
People with psoriatic arthritis may qualify under section 1.02 (major dysfunction of a joint) and/or section 14.09 (inflammatory arthritis).
1.02 Major dysfunction of a joint(s) (due to any cause): Characterized by gross anatomical deformity (e.g., subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, instability) and chronic joint pain and stiffness with signs of limitation of motion or other abnormal motion of the affected joint(s), and findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging of joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis of the affected joint(s)
14.09 Inflammatory arthritis. As described in 14.00D6. With:
A. Persistent inflammation or persistent deformity of:
- One or more major peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively (as defined in 14.00C6); or
- One or more major peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively (as defined in 14.00C7).
B. Inflammation or deformity in one or more major peripheral joints with:
- Involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
- At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
C. Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies, with:
- Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 45° or more of flexion from the vertical position (zero degrees); or
- Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 30° or more of flexion (but less than 45°) measured from the vertical position (zero degrees), and involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity.
D. Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
- Limitation of activities of daily living.
- Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
- Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and it has impacted your ability to work, you may qualify for disability benefits. Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to injury or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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