A. Definition
Psoriasis, also termed, ‘psoriasis vulgaris,’ is a common, chronic, relapsing/remitting, immune-mediated skin disease characterized by red, scaly patches, papules, and plaques, which usually itch. The skin lesions associated with psoriasis may vary in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. The disease affects 2-4% of the population and often runs in families.

B. General information
Psoriasis causes the life cycle of your skin cells to accelerate, leading to a buildup of dead cells on the surface of your skin. Normal skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every four weeks. New skin cells grow to replace the outer layers of the skin as they shed. In psoriasis, new skin cells move to the surface of your skin in days rather than weeks. They build up and form patches called plaques. The patches range in size and most commonly appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, and lower back. These red plaques usually itch and are often painful.

Psoriasis has no cure. Experts believe that the disease occurs when the immune system overreacts, causing inflammation and flaking of the skin. Symptoms often disappear or go into remission — even without treatment — only to return and flare up later. Most cases of psoriasis are mild and treatable, but others may require different treatment combinations before the disease is brought under control. Sometimes, psoriasis causes joints to become swollen, tender, and painful. This is called psoriatic arthritis (see ‘Arthritis’).

It is rare that psoriasis is severe enough to prevent a person from sustaining full time work for a year or more. Nonetheless, the Social Security Administration recognizes that some cases may cause disability.

C. Social Security Disability Medical Listing 8.05—Dermatitis
If your psoriasis prevents you from sustaining full time work for a year or more, then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Under Social Security Medical Listing 8.05, dermatitis (psoriasis, dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, or allergic contact dermatitis), with extensive skin lesions, must persist for at least 3 months and be expected to last at least 12 months, despite continuing prescribed treatment.

Your skin condition will be assessed on the extent of your skin lesions, the frequency of flare-ups, how your symptoms and pain limit you, the extent of your treatment, how your treatment affects you, your response to treatment, your prognosis, and your ability to function. To confirm the diagnosis, the Social Security Administration may require laboratory findings, blood tests, and other evidence from acceptable medical sources consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice.

Your representative can help you determine whether your psoriasis meets the severity requirement of the Social Security Administration to qualify for disability benefits.