Emotional man with a skin disease.

Syndrome can have severe, permanent health consequences

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare reaction to certain medications, infections or cancers. The reaction causes the outer layer of skin to blister, die and peel, creating the same effect as burning. The reaction can also affect mucus membranes. As an Illinois Social Security lawyer can attest, this syndrome can cause various short-term complications and even permanent disability.

Debilitating complications

Stevens-Johnson syndrome can lead to numerous medical complications. Loss of the external layer of skin puts victims at risk for dehydration and skin infection. The eye dryness associated with the syndrome can result in cornea scratching or vision problems. The risk of general infection or sepsis is also significant.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome can have extensive effects. ABC News recently reported that one California woman suffered damaged to 90 percent of her body after developing the syndrome. The woman spent 52 days hospitalized and suffered various complications, including throat, blood and urine infections. After her release, the woman still required a breathing tube due to throat constriction.

Unfortunately, besides short-term health problems, victims of Stevens-Johnson syndrome may suffer permanent complications. These include:

  • Vision problems — severe tissue damage and scarring may result in impaired vision or blindness.
  • Organ damage — Stevens-Johnson syndrome may affect the kidneys, heart and liver. Complications associated with the syndrome, such as sepsis, may also cause organ damage.
  • Lung problems — victims of Stevens-Johnson syndrome may also develop respiratory illness or inflammation, such as bronchitis.

In severe cases, Stevens-Johnson syndrome may leave victims unable to work or perform other daily activities. These individuals may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. As a Social Security lawyer can explain, benefits may be awarded based on an applicant’s medical condition or functional limitations.

Claiming SSD benefits

Victims of Stevens-Johnson syndrome may qualify for benefits by meeting the terms of a “Blue Book” listing. The Blue Book contains a list of disabling medical conditions that automatically are eligible for benefits if they meet set criteria. Some complications of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, such as vision loss, may be evaluated under these listings.

People who have suffered permanent complications because of Stevens-Johnson syndrome may also qualify for medical-vocational allowances. The SSA awards an allowance if gainful employment is not feasible given a person’s medical condition and functional abilities. The SSA also considers a person’s age, education and work experience when evaluating the person’s potential employment options.

As a Social Security lawyer knows, a claims examiner may weigh various effects of Stevens-Johnson syndrome when awarding an allowance. In some cases, complications that are not considered disabling on their own may collectively prevent a person from working. Thus, providing documentation of all complications associated with this syndrome is essential for people seeking benefits.