• Resources
  •   >  Conditions that qualify for disability
Conditions that qualify for disability

Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa a Disability? How to Get Benefits

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
May 14, 2024  ·  4 min read
Why trust us?

Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.

See if you qualify

If your hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The skin condition, which is most prevalent among women and Black people, typically starts after puberty and continues to worsen over time.

To secure benefits, you'll have to go through the often challenging and lengthy application process and prove that you meet the requirements set out by the Social Security Administration (SSA). We'll explain how hidradenitis suppurativa can qualify for disability and offer guidance on the next steps for your disability claim.


What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa, also called acne inversa, is a chronic skin condition that affects one or several body parts. The disease causes painful lesions and lumps under the skin, which can become inflamed and possibly break open, leading to abscesses and scarring.

Hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms

Hidradenitis suppurativa typically affects areas with hair follicles and sweat glands, including the inner thighs and underarms. In severe cases, hidradenitis suppurativa makes it difficult to move.

Signs and symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa can include:

  • Blackheads or pimples in small, pitted areas of the skin

  • Pea-sized lumps or cysts that are painful and long-lasting

  • Bumps or sores that break open and drain pus

  • Abscesses that are recurrent and slow to heal and can lead to tunnels under the skin as well as scarring


Is hidradenitis suppurativa a disability?

Yes, hidradenitis suppurativa is considered a disability by the SSA if it's severe enough to prevent someone from being able to work. The SSA lists hidradenitis suppurativa under skin disorders (Section 8.09) in its Blue Book, a resource of qualifying conditions.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA), a law passed in 1990 prohibiting discrimination against those with disabilities, also deems hidradenitis suppurativa a disability if the impairment is substantially limiting.


Can you get disability for hidradenitis suppurativa?

Yes, you can receive disability benefits for hidradenitis suppurativa if you can't work because of symptoms and chronic flare-ups. Even though the SSA considers hidradenitis suppurativa a qualifying condition, applying with more than one qualifying condition can make it easier for claimants to secure benefits. 

For example, people with hidradenitis suppurativa commonly have the following conditions, which you'd want to include in your application if they apply to you:

For more on these conditions and others that may enable you to receive disability benefits, reference our main guide on conditions that qualify for disability.


Criteria for getting disability with hidradenitis suppurativa

To get disability benefits for hidradenitis suppurativa, you'll have to prove you're unable to work because of how severe your condition is. As medical evidence, you'll need to provide relevant medical records and documentation showing how your hidradenitis suppurativa prevents you from working and going through daily life despite ongoing efforts at management and treatment.

When reviewing your case, the SSA will be looking at whether your hidradenitis suppurativa meets the following criteria:

  1. You have extensive skin lesions that cause chronic pain or physical limitations and that remain even after you've followed medical treatment as prescribed for three months.

AND

  1. You have one of the following functional limitations as a result of your condition:

  • You're unable to use both arms due to chronic skin lesions, to the extent that neither arm can be used to initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities that involve fine and gross movements on your own.

  • You can't use one of your arms to independently carry out work-related activities because of your chronic skin lesions and you have a documented medical need for an assistive device that requires the use of the other arm.

  • You can't stand up when seated and maintain an upright posture as is needed to initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities on your own because of chronic skin lesions affecting at least two of your extremities (including around the sides of the groin or perineum region).

  • You can't maintain an upright position while walking or standing as much as is necessary to start, sustain, and complete work-related activities on your own because of chronic skin lesions affecting both legs (including around the groin or perineum region).

3 questions to ask yourself before applying

Before you get deep into the application process, take a step back and determine how likely you are to qualify. If you're able to answer “yes” to all or most of the following questions, then you stand a pretty good chance of winning disability benefits:

  1. Do you have persistently recurrent skin lesions due to your hidradenitis suppurativa that have caused chronic pain or ongoing physical limitations?

  2. Have you followed medically prescribed treatment for at least three months and still experienced chronic pain or physical limitations as a result of your lesions?

  3. Do you have limitations due to your lesions that prevent you from independently engaging in work-related activities?


My hidradenitis suppurativa meets the criteria. Now what?

If you're confident your hidradenitis suppurativa meets the criteria, you'll want to apply for disability benefits as soon as possible, given the length of the process

But if you're less certain whether applying for disability makes sense for you, take a look at the following scenarios for some guidance:

  • Apply now if:

    • Your hidradenitis suppurativa severely limits your ability to independently carry out and complete work-related tasks.

    • You've followed treatment for your hidradenitis suppurativa as prescribed for at least three months and are still experiencing chronic pain or physical limitations.

  • Consider waiting and applying later if:

    • You're managing your hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms for now, even if you think the skin infections may prevent you from working in the future.

    • Your symptoms are moderate or seem like they're getting better with treatment.

  • Probably don’t apply if:

    • You earn $1,550 or more per month.

    • You can continue working with your hidradenitis suppurativa.

What type of benefits should I apply for?

There are two federal disability programs: 

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for people who have worked and paid taxes, including for at least five of the last 10 years.

  2. Supplemental Security Income: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for anyone with limited work experience who has a low income (about $900 per month or less) and few assets.

These programs include health insurance (Medicare for SSDI and Medicaid for SSI). To learn more about the different eligibility requirements, refer to our article on the differences between SSDI and SSI.


How much is a disability check for hidradenitis suppurativa?

The average disability check for someone with hidradenitis suppurativa is $656.59 per month. You could make less than that or more. As of 2024, the maximum monthly amount you can make for hidradenitis suppurativa is $3,822 with SSDI and $943 with SSI.

These maximums will apply regardless of what condition ultimately qualifies you for disability or how many qualifying conditions you have. The amount of your disability check is calculated based on your work history for SSDI or your other sources of income for SSI.

To get a better sense of how much you may receive each month with hidradenitis suppurativa, here's a more in-depth look at how much people make on SSDI and SSI.

Estimate your disability benefit amount in just a few steps

We'll use the Social Security Administration's formula to estimate your monthly benefit.

Average
monthly check

$1,489


What if my hidradenitis suppurativa doesn’t meet the criteria?

If you're not confident that your hidradenitis suppurativa meets SSA criteria, you can still apply. Just know that you will have to prove through medical records and documentation that your condition makes it impossible for you to work.

Even those with severe hidradenitis suppurativa can expect to get turned down on their first application attempt, as approximately 80% of applicants do. However, if you appeal the initial denial, your odds of approval can increase significantly—here's more on the chances of winning an appeal.

We also have compiled a list of resources for people with disabilities to which you can turn if you need financial or legal assistance soon. 


Get help applying for disability benefits

A disability attorney can help you gather the right medical evidence for hidradenitis suppurativa and complete the application paperwork. A disability lawyer knows the ins and outs of Social Security disability and can help you navigate the process from start to finish. 

Take our two-minute disability quiz to see if you qualify for benefits, and we'll contact you to learn more about your situation and offer tailored advice. We can also introduce you to a qualified disability lawyer if you’d like. There are no upfront costs, and you won't pay your lawyer unless you win benefits.

Frequently asked questions about qualifying for disability

What conditions qualify for disability benefits?

Any medical condition that leaves you unable to work can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA has a list of common qualifying conditions in the Blue Book. You can also check our full guide to all the conditions that can qualify for disability.

Does my condition affect my disability benefit?

No, the medical condition you have doesn’t affect how much you get from SSDI or SSI. Where you live also doesn’t impact your check size.

How much do SSDI and SSI pay?

SSDI pays up to $3,822 per month, though the average check is about $1,500 in 2024. SSI can pay up to $943 per month in 2024. Read more about how much you can make on SSDI and SSI.

When should I apply for disability benefits?

We recommend applying for benefits as soon as you know you’ll be unable to work. The application process takes a while — a year or longer for the average person. The sooner you submit your application, the sooner you can get your benefits.

Where do I apply for disability benefits?

Apply for Social Security disability benefits online through the SSA website or in-person at your local SSA office. Get step-by-step help in our breakdown of the disability application process.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for disability?

A lawyer isn’t required and you can win benefits without a lawyer. However, the process is complicated and technical — especially when you get to a court hearing. Working with a good lawyer triples your chances of winning an appeal.

Related resources:

What Medical Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability?

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab

Is Arthritis a Disability? How to Get Disability Benefits

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab

See what you qualify for

How long has your condition made it hard to work?

Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
About Us
  • Mission
  • Careers

At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.

There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.

Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)

  • This website is lawyer advertising.
  • Cal. Bar #23984
  • © 2024 Atticus Law, P.C.

Terms | Privacy | Disclaimer