Eczema - Information for Social Security Disability (SSD, SSDI) and SSI

If your eczema is extensive and makes it difficult to walk or use your hands, you have a chance of getting disability benefits.

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Eczema, sometimes known as atopic dermatitis, is a general term for a skin condition that results in inflamed or irritated skin. Eczema causes itching in the affected area and while it can occur anywhere, it is most common on the hands, feet, face, and back of the knees. Skin that is affected by eczema often looks dry, scaly, and thickened, and may have small blisters.

Symptoms of eczema. While there is no cure for eczema, most people can manage their symptoms (mostly itchy, sometimes broken skin) with medication and by avoiding things that may irritate their skin. Although it is not common for symptoms of eczema to rise to the level of severity required to be eligible for disability, it is possible that you may be eligible for disability if you have very severe symptoms associated with eczema that cause recurrent infections and do not respond to treatment.

Disability listing for dermatitis. If you have eczema to such an extent that you are unable to work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will grant you disability benefits automatically if you meet the requirements the SSA sets forth in its disability listing called “Dermatitis.” Dermatitis is a general term for inflammatory skin conditions, and the different types and causes of eczema fall under the dermatitis heading. In order to be eligible for disability under the dermatitis listing, you must have a diagnosis of a type of eczema with "extensive skin lesions" that last for at least three months and are not responding to any prescribed treatment.

Extensive skin lesions. In order for skin lesions to be considered extensive, they must either cover an area of the body needed to function, such as the palms of your hands, or cover multiple less significant areas of the body, such as your elbows and face. In addition, your eczema patches must cause you serious limitations. For example, eczema on both soles of your feet, the back of your knees, or your perineum might make it difficult to walk or stand for several hours per day. Eczema on your hands could make it hard for you to use your hands to perform desk work or assembly work. 

Applying for disability and appealing a denial. While getting disability for eczema is not commonly seen, it is possible. To apply for SSI or SSDI benefits, you can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 or, for SSDI applications only, you can file an application online. It's likely, however, that you'll be denied benefits at the initial application stage and will have to appeal to the hearing state to get a judge to hear your case. If you get to the hearing stage, hiring a disability lawyer who has experience with skin disease cases may increase your chances of getting approved.

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