Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Social Security Disability

According to the Mayo Clinic, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is chronic inflammation and deep lesions of the skin, particularly in sensitive areas of the armpits and groin.  Possible causes are thought to involve a combination of genetics, hormones, and other factors.  HS may impact 1-2% of the population, but absolute numbers are uncertain.

Given how relatively rare this medical condition is, our attorneys at Hoglund Law Offices have successfully represented a surprising number of clients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa in Social Security Disability benefits claims.  Our clients have typically worked for over ten years or more with symptoms before succumbing to the progressive lesions and pain despite surgical intervention.

How does Social Security Disability evaluate Hidradenitis Suppurativa?  Social Security verifies the diagnosis first.  In my experience, records usually carry ongoing primary care treatment for recurring boils that require in-office lancing.  Of concern, I have seen some medical record histories that initially fail to specifically diagnose HS until these lesions have persisted in various forms and locations for a few years.  There are possible reasons for this that I address below.

Social Security reviews Hidradenitis Suppurativa claims under a special definition of disability called a listing.  Here is the “listing” that Social Security applies to claims based on Hidradenitis Suppurativa:

Listing 8.06

Hidradenitis suppurativa, with extensive skin lesions involving both axillae, both inguinal areas or the perineum that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed.

How do our Social Security disability attorneys at Hoglund Law Offices get approvals at Social Security hearings for clients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa?  In our experience, the timing of the diagnosis may be an issue.  I argue to judges that the nature of the HS lesions may not, in themselves, manifest themselves to physicians initially – particularly if my clients see different primary care physicians from appointment to appointment or change facilities from time to time.  Over time, however, the diagnosis of HS should relate back to previous care for the symptoms.  Our attorneys can offer advice to get retrospective input from these physicians.

Deficiencies in the medical evidence of HS may relate to the location of the lesions.  My clients may attempt to suffer through a period of HS lesions in private areas of their bodies.  Despite the Social Security Administration’s assumptions, it is not always easy to seek care for personally sensitive problems.  I argue to judges that a delay in diagnosis, in these instances, has more to do with social factors.  Reporting the full constellation of symptoms right away has been difficult for some of my clients.

What should your Social Security Disability attorney know about Hidradenitis Suppurativa?  In my experience, it is common to have judges and medical experts who are unfamiliar with HD.  I understand that Social Security judges must review many kinds of medical claims.  I speculate that medical experts (ME’s) at hearings, however, may not be as familiar (and miss) Hidradenitis Suppurativa because it is a dermatological condition that may not normally arise in other specialty areas.

What must your Social Security disability attorney do at your Social Security hearing?  He or she must raise the issue of Listing 8.06 and point out the diagnosis, duration, location, impact, and daily care duties that impede full-time employment.  Additional legal documentation has proven helpful in our clients’ claims.  Call us at Hoglund Law Offices today if you are interested in the experience our Social Security attorneys can offer you to apply or appeal your Social Security Disability claim.

Andrew Kinney, Esq.

 

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