What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Recently, I met with an individual who was diagnosed with a very rare bacterial infection known as necrotizing fasciitis. Necrotizing fasciitis is known by other names, but it is most commonly called either the flesh-eating disease, necrotizing soft tissue infection, flesh-eating bacteria syndrome or flesh-eating bacteria. There are fewer than 20,000 U.S. cases reported per year.

Naturally, the question presented to me was whether someone with this disease would qualify for disability benefits. As with a majority of disability claims, there are typically two ways an individual can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. First, whether an individual can meet or equal the requirements of a listing set out in Social Security’s list of qualifying impairments or if they can show that he or she is unable to work because of their conditions.

Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection of the deeper layers of your skin and subcutaneous tissues. It easily spreads across the connective tissue inside your subcutaneous tissue. Necrotizing fasciitis is caused by one or more multiplying bacterial species that are aggressive. Most of the time it is group A streptococcus. Or to put it in non-medical terms, it is a flesh-eating disease that occurs when bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin. This disease usually develops in people who have a severe injury or an underlying condition. Hence, people with a weakened immune system can be at greater risk of developing this condition.

Necrotizing fasciitis can destroy skin, fat and the tissue that covers your muscles. The condition spreads quickly. Symptoms include blisters, fever, fatigue, and pain worse than a person would expect based on the wound’s appearance.

There are three types of necrotizing fasciitis. Type I is called polymicrobial necrotizing fasciitis. It usually develops after trauma or surgery. Type II is called group A streptococcal necrotizing fasciitis. This is the so-called flesh-eating bacterial infection. Type III necrotizing fasciitis, or clostridial myonecrosis, is gas gangrene. This is a skeletal muscle infection that may result from recent trauma or surgery.

Treatment involves immediate delivery of IV antibiotics. Surgical removal of dead or infected tissue from the wound is often required.

Ultimately, one’s chance of success of obtaining a disability depends on the severity of the condition and how it limits an individual. Whether you meet or equal one of Social Security’s listings, or need to prove you are disability under a medical vocational allowance, you must work closely with your doctor to ensure your medical records are thorough and that your application and associated documentation meet the Social Security evidence requirements for eligibility.

For more information about necrotizing fasciitis please visit the CDC’s webpage located at http://www.cdc.gov/features/necrotizingfasciitis/. Alternatively, for more information about getting social security benefits by equaling a disability listing please visit DisabilitySecrets.com.

By Kevin J. Kohler

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