Can You Receive SSA Disability After Surviving SJS Or TENS?

Posted on: 3 August 2015

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TENS) are rare disorders that overlap. In many cases, the conditions are fatal. For those that do survive, however, the conditions can be life-altering and leave you disabled even years later. Here's what you should know when filing for disability due to the aftereffects of SJS or TENS.

What is SJS or TENS?

SJS and TENS are both skin conditions that cause the top layer of your skin to detach from your body and peel away. The conditions can also move internally, affecting your organs in the same fashion. Essentially, they cause the same physical problems - but doctors label the condition SJS if less than 10% of the body is affected, an SJS/TENS overlap if up to 30% of the body is affected, and TENS when greater than 30% of the body is affected.

While the cause of SJS and TENS isn't always known, the diseases often result from an allergic reaction to any number of common medications, illness, or infection. Death is usually a result of sepsis and multi-organ failure.

What are the long-term effects of SJS or TENS?

SJS and TENS can leave victims with damaged vision (including blindness), damaged lungs or other internal organs, chronic skin pain, scarring, and emotional damage. Patients can suffer from anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder after this highly painful experience.

They may also lose feeling in their fingertips or range of motion in their hands or limbs due to scar tissue. Nerve damage can occur from their skin peeling off repeatedly. They can also end up with a weakened immune system that puts them at risk of more infections and a recurrence of the condition.

Can you qualify for disability if you've suffered through SJS or TENS?

Social Security will examine several things when determining whether or not you qualify for disability based on the lingering effects of SJS/TENS:

  • your ability to use your hands and perform fine motor skills
  • how well you can stand, walk, crouch or kneel - which may be limited due to joint damage or extensive scar tissue
  • your remaining vision, with corrective lenses
  • your ability to function outside of a protected environment where your exposure to germs is limited
  • your tolerance to natural lighting on your skin
  • any damages to your internal organs, such as your lungs or kidneys, that require ongoing treatment
  • any chronic pain that you have developed in your joints or on your skin
  • any depression, PTSD, or anxiety that you've developed as a result of your ordeal and how they limit your ability to function

When you file, it's critical that you list all of the ongoing problems that you have. Since you've technically "recovered" from the episode of SJS/TENS, Social Security will instead examine the problems that you now have as a result of the episode. The more specific you are about your ongoing limitations and problems, the more that you improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits.

If you've tried filing for disability benefits due to the ongoing problems you have as a result of SJS/TENS and been denied, contact a disability attorney for help.