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Can You Get Disability Benefits With Eczema?

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Annie Keller
Updated on April 30, 2021

  • Different types of disability benefits are available for people with eczema who qualify.
  • Applications for disability depend on your inability to work.
  • You may appeal if you are denied disability benefits.

Symptoms associated with eczema — itchy skin lesions, blisters, dermatitis, and flare-ups — can prevent people with the condition from maintaining their jobs.

“My skin has flared again. I have lumps on my hands. Some are weeping and the rest of my hands are scaly. I am off work and cannot return until this condition is managed, as I have to use my hands all day to perform my role,” wrote a MyEczemaTeam member.

However, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) does not specifically list the condition as a recognized disability among its Listing of Impairments, used to determine who qualifies for Social Security disability benefits.

“Atopic dermatitis should be a disability. Psoriasis is, and it's not a bit worse,” a MyEczemaTeam member declared.

Fortunately, people with eczema living in the United States may still be eligible for disability. “I actually ended up on disability because work was aggravating my eczema so badly that I kept ending up with a lot of time off from work with multiple skin infections,” wrote another member.

Can Eczema Be Considered a Disability?

The Social Security Administration understands that not every disabling health condition can be listed in one neat guide. In addition to the listed conditions, the SSA offers a guideline for determining if a person is eligible despite not having one of the recognized disabling conditions.

In determining your eligibility for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will evaluate the following criteria:

  • You are likely ineligible for monthly benefits if you earn $1,260 or more a month. If you earn less than that amount, you may still be eligible for a reduced amount.
  • You must be incapable of performing basic tasks required for most jobs, including standing for extended periods, walking, lifting, sitting, and remembering. You must not have been able to perform these tasks for at least 12 months.
  • Although the Social Security Administration provides a listing of impairments that prevent working, you may still be eligible if your specific medical condition isn’t listed.
  • You must be unable to perform any work you’ve done previously. A work history is not a prerequisite for receiving SSI.
  • You must be unable to engage in what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity.” The Social Security Administration will consider your diagnosis, age, medical history, education, and work history, as well as any other marketable skills.

Applying for a disability claim through SSA can seem daunting; appealing a rejected claim can prove even more challenging. Before you apply for disability, take some time to familiarize yourself with the process, including learning how the SSA determines whether your condition makes you eligible for benefits.

Disability Benefit Programs in the United States

There are two different federal disability programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Funded by payroll taxes, SSDI provides benefits to people with a recent full-time work history. If you are approved for SSDI, you can receive benefits six months after the date your disability began. You are eligible for Medicare 24 months after you start receiving SSDI.

SSI offers disability benefits to low-income individuals, regardless of work history. If you are approved, you can receive benefits in the next month. Additionally, you may be eligible for back payments of SSI if you became disabled before your SSI was approved.

In most states, SSI eligibility qualifies you for Medicaid. In Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and the Northern Mariana Islands, you have to apply for Medicaid separately from SSI, but the criteria are the same for both. Eligibility criteria for SSI recipients varies across states.

Almost every state provides an SSI supplement. The exceptions are Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The eligibility rules for supplements vary by state.

There is an asset cap to receiving Supplemental Security Income: $2,000 in assets for individuals or $3,000 for couples. The Social Security Administration has a list of which assets (“resources”) are considered. Your primary residence, household belongings, and one personal vehicle are not counted among these assets.

Getting both SSDI and SSI is an option for those who have very limited funds and a work history.

Applying for Disability Benefits

Applying for disability benefits requires considerable preparation and paperwork. The Social Security Administration offers a checklist of necessary application information. Consider enlisting assistance from a trusted friend, relative, or a knowledgeable professional.

Personal and Family Information

  • Your full legal name, date of birth, and Social Security number
  • Full names and dates of birth of your current or previous spouses, and dates of marriage, divorce, or death
  • Full names and dates of birth of your children
  • Bank account information

Medical Evidence About Your Eczema

  • The name and contact information for your dermatologist and other medical providers who can discuss your condition
  • A complete list of medications, both past and present, as well as results for medical tests for allergens and other irritants
  • A description of how eczema impacts your ability to do activities like shopping, cooking, cleaning, and other tasks of daily living
  • A list of allergens you may be in contact with at work and the reactions they cause

“I have a very supportive dermatologist consultant … who wrote a letter of support for my application, as she has been treating me for five years now and knew how long I had been struggling to stay in work,” wrote a MyEczemaTeam member.

Complete Employment History

  • Earnings from the past year
  • Any current employers or ones you have worked for in the past two years
  • A complete work history from the last 15 years, including any jobs from before you became disabled
  • Whether you are getting or intend to receive workers’ compensation
  • Dates of any military service

Other Documentation

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of citizenship
  • W-2 or other tax forms from the previous year
  • Any medical records about your condition
  • Proof of any workers’ compensation you have received

You can apply for SSDI online if you:

  • Have never been married
  • Were born in the United States
  • Are between 18 and 65
  • Are not currently receiving benefits

If you don’t meet those criteria, you can still apply at a local Social Security office or over the phone.

Appealing a Disability Application Rejection

An application for disability benefits takes an average of three to five months to process. Approval can take even longer.

Only 21 percent of those who applied for disability benefits between 2009 and 2018 were approved on their first attempt. You can appeal the decision if your application is denied. The first step is reconsideration, when your case will be evaluated by someone who did not take part in the first evaluation. About 2 percent of applications that weren’t approved the first time were approved during reconsideration from 2009 through 2018.

If necessary, you have the option of filing a second appeal, which includes a hearing by an administrative law judge trained in disability laws. You may have a disability attorney represent you at this hearing. Some law firms specialize in disability hearings. In most cases, these disability lawyers do not require a set, upfront payment; rather, they will take a percentage of any benefits you do receive.

“I had to resign from my job … and file for disability. After being denied twice, I finally have a court date with my attorney. Now my biggest concern is trying to explain my condition to the judge so that he can fully understand,” wrote a member of the MyEczemaTeam.

If you are denied at this level, you can ask the Appeals Council to review your case and make a decision on it. About 8 percent of SSDI claims between 2009 and 2018 were approved during a hearing with an administrative law judge or the Appeals Council. If you are denied at this level, your last remaining option is a federal court hearing.

Consider These International Resources

If you’d like to research more about disability benefits in countries outside of the United States, check out these resources, listed by country:

Get Support From People Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. More than members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Have you applied for Social Security disability benefits for eczema? Do you have any advice about the process? Comment below or start a conversation on MyEczemaTeam.

Updated on April 30, 2021
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Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Annie Keller specializes in writing about medicine, medical devices, and biotech. Learn more about her here.

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