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Severe Arthritis – Can You Get Disability Benefits?

November 24, 2020

Arthritis is something that most people experience at some time in their lives. Usually, during the elderly years, people experience stiffness and cramping while some watch their hands curl together with extreme pain. For sufferers, disability benefits should be a consideration. For many, joint inflammation is a minor inconvenience, but for others, it’s an extremely painful and often debilitating condition. Arthritis can range drastically in severity, which makes it difficult to apply towards SSDI benefits.

Without a doubt, there are severe cases of arthritis that certainly keep people away from work for a year or more. There are times when severe cases of arthritis cause people to become totally and permanently disabled. However, the Social Security Administration often views joint inflammation as a minor condition that is treatable and manageable. Those who suffer from severe joint inflammation may have an ongoing battle with the SSA in an effort to obtain disability benefits.

Does the Social Security Administration Consider Arthritis a Disability?

The Social Security Administration does acknowledge that arthritis could be a disabling condition. However, the SSA uses a strict series of criteria to determine whether or not someone with arthritis can qualify for disability benefits. There is some additional trouble because arthritis is not a singular disease. Arthritis is the common term for a number of conditions, and the SSA has yet to catch up. The condition “arthritis” actually includes over 100 different types of arthritis and there are additional ‘related conditions’ which may factor into the level of disability.

Overall symptoms and effects of arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness, and a decrease in the person’s range of motion. These symptoms may not be present all the time, and they may get progressively worse or seem to get better for a while. This ‘wishy-washy’ element of arthritis and it’s many variants make it difficult to understand the disabling elements of the condition.

The SSDI Blue Book

The SSDI blue book identifies that there must be persistent inflammation and a deformity present. However, the criteria have a lot of conditional statements. They require that at least one of the weight-bearing joints have the inability to move effectively. Or, a joint within the upper extremities must not have the ability to perform any fine movements.

Alternatively, the inflammation or deformity may involve two or more body systems or organs. There must also be two additional constitutional symptoms such as fever, severe fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss.

Other options within the SSDI blue book can include:

  • Manifestations of arthritis which limit daily activities or completing tasks in a reasonable time frame.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Other spondyloarthropathies
  • Limiting abilities for maintaining social functions of life.

Proving Your Case

Proving your case will require that you completely understand how the SSA looks at joint inflammation and categorizes each factor of your symptoms. Each factor will look at your illness and your ability to work.

If you can’t continue working because of joint inflammation and related conditions then you might have access to SSDI benefits. However, you’ll need to prove that your arthritis is the cause of the challenges at work. You will need to work with your medical team to identify the specific type of joint inflammation and the consistency of your symptoms. Your medical team must determine that your symptoms and condition will keep you out of work for at least twelve months if not longer.

What Happens if Your Case Doesn’t Meet Blue Book Expectations

If you don’t qualify or meet the requirements within the blue book then you might have a few options. You might have to explore some elements of what you can and can’t do and may be placed on partial disability. The doctor leading your medical team or care should outline what it is that you can or can’t accomplish in a workplace.

As part of understanding your limitations, you’ll need a doctor to complete a special form called the RFC form. You can submit the RFC form for consideration to the SSDI office with your disability benefits claim application.

Handling SSDI Claims and Appeals

The Arthritis Foundation estimates that over 300,000 children and 50 million adults experience symptoms of arthritis in the U.S. Sometimes these are visible symptoms such as knobby fingers or clawed hands and other times its subtle pains that tingle or shock the wrist joints. An SSDI claim may take weeks or months to push through.

An SSDI appeal may take even longer. Oftentimes people find themselves locked in legal battles for months or years with the Social Security Administration. To handle these appeals, or to submit a claim with the most accurate and thorough application contact the Tabak Law firm. Our team at Tabak Law understands how to handle SSDI claims and appeals. Move forward with an experienced SSDI attorney.

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