Monday, March 17, 2014


According to the American College of Rheumatology, Scleroderma (also known as systemic sclerosis) is a chronic disease that causes the skin to become thick and hard; a buildup of scar tissue; and damage to internal organs such as the heart and blood vessels, lungs, stomach and kidneys.  The effects of scleroderma vary widely and range from minor to life-threatening, depending on how widespread the disease is and which parts of the body are affected.  The Scleroderma Foundation estimates that 300,000 people in the United States suffer from scleroderma, which is incurable, disabling and, often, fatal.

I represent a banking executive whose application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was denied by the State agency on the grounds that the claimant’s condition should not stop her from being able to work.  Social Security agreed that the claimant had scleroderma, it just did not want to accept that the condition was severe enough to render the claimant, who was under 50 years of age, incapable of any type of full time work.

The most concrete way to establish the severity of scleroderma is by showing that it meets the criteria of a “listing” (see 5/3/12 blog) specifically, 14.04.  If the scleroderma meets the listing 14.04, then the claimant is presumptively deemed disabled.  The best way to show that a claimant meets a listing is by getting the treating specialist to provide a medical opinion explaining why the claimant meets each of the listing’s criteria.  Sure enough, today, the ALJ approved the claimant’s SSD application based on her rheumatologist’s opinion that claimant’s scleroderma met listing 4.04. 

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