Arthritis and Your Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know

Written by John Horn. Posted in Blogs

Over 50 million people in the United States are diagnosed with a form of arthritis. Left untreated, arthritis can be incapacitating. Some types of arthritis can worsen with time, increasing the risk of a disability.

Arthritis can prevent you from working and earning an income. If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Read on to learn more about qualifying for SSD when you have arthritis.

SSA Listing for Arthritis

Many types of arthritis exist but rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are the most common. To evaluate your eligibility for SSD, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers whether you have symptoms of rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.

For rheumatoid arthritis, the SSA will check that:

  • You have a history of chronic pain, swelling, and tenderness in major joints.
  • You have been on therapy for at least three months but you still have joint inflammation.
  • Your condition restricts the normal functioning of your joints.
  • Your condition is expected to last at least one year and keep you from working.

For osteoarthritis, the SSA will check whether your diagnosis has symptoms such as:

  • A compressed spinal nerve root that inhibits the proper functioning of your spine
  • A thin spinal canal that limits your ability to walk
  • Swelling of the arachnoid membrane that affects your posture
  • A dysfunction in one hip, knee, or ankle joint that limits your ability to walk
  • A dysfunction in one hand, shoulder, wrist, or elbow that limits your ability to use your hands

Your SSD application must include a formal diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner. Evidence such as a blood test and medical imaging should accompany your application to support your diagnosis. There are many other conditions that fall under the arthritis umbrella.

Medical Vocational Allowance

In some instances, your arthritic symptoms may not meet the criteria set by the SSA. This does not automatically disqualify you from disability benefits.

The SSA uses the term Medical Vocational Allowance to refer to a situation where a claimant receives disability benefits when their particular disability does not match the SSA’s list of disabilities but in combination with other factors will render a person disabled. SSA will take into consideration your age, work restrictions and work history.

The SSA recognizes that some conditions that do not meet the set criteria can also be so disabling as to prevent a person from working.

In this case, the SSA will thoroughly review your medical history based on your physician’s written records and statements. Sometimes, the SSA may request an independent physician to examine you to determine the extent of your disability.

Work History

In addition to checking your medical history, the SSA will also evaluate your work history to determine if you can perform any job despite your medical condition.

The SSA examiner will categorize your previous work, examine the mental and physical effort this work required, determine whether you can work in your previous job, and decide whether you can learn a new skill to perform another type of job.

The examiner will find you disabled if your arthritis prevents you from performing sedentary work. If you are older than 55 and depending on your level of education and work history, the SSA may also determine that you cannot learn a new skill to take up a new job.

While arthritis is a serious condition, pain and stiffness alone will not qualify you for disability benefits. To ensure that you receive the benefits you need, first consult with a reputable SSD attorney before applying.

At Horn & Kelley P.C. Attorneys At Law, we understand the intricacies of the SSA system and have helped many claimants secure their benefits. If you suffer from debilitating arthritis and you need disability support, call us today to discuss your options.



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