Facts about Hyperhidrosis and Filing for Disability
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.
Facts about the condition
1. Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for a condition involving excessive sweating. While everyone should sweat as a healthy part of regulating body temperature, those with hyperhidrosis sweat even at normal body temperature.
2. Typically the condition affects one or more areas, primarily the underarms, groin area, palms, and bottom of the feet. These areas are typically the sweatiest for those with normal perspiration, so are often the site of excessive sweating in hyperhidrosis. However, the condition can be widespread across the whole body.
3. The sweating associated with hyperhidrosis is frequent and obvious, is bothersome to the affected individual, soaks clothing, and causes clammy or dripping palms of hands and soles of feet. Diagnosis requires that the condition interferes with normal daily life, and that an episode occurs at least once a week for no apparent reason.
4. Everyone has probably experienced an embarrassing sweaty moment in public. Those with hyperhidrosis may be constantly worried about their sweating, and aside from causing social and professional problems, this anxiety can also exacerbate the problem of excess perspiration.
5. There are two main types of hyperhidrosis. One occurs suddenly and is widespread across the body, such as a hot flash in menopausal women. Generalized hyperhidrosis is usually related to an underlying condition such as menopause. It may also be due to blood sugar or thyroid hormone levels, cancers or the side effects of a prescription medication. This type can usually be managed by controlling the associated condition.
6. Focal hyperhidrosis typically has an onset before the age of 20 and is characterized by excessive sweating during the day that ceases while sleeping. It is localized, such as to the palms or underarms, and occurs on both sides of the body.
7. Botox is an interesting method of treatment for hyperhidrosis, since it is most commonly known for hiding wrinkles. It works by inhibiting nerves in the sweat glands.
Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition
Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.
This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.
In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.
Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).
Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?
There are several reasons but here are just two:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.
Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.
2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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