Arthritis and Social Security Disability
Though various forms of arthritis may allow you to continue working for some time after the initial onset of the disease, as symptoms progress most forms become increasingly debilitating, putting more and more limitations on your everyday abilities to complete normal job functions and tasks in your personal life as well.
If you suffer from arthritis that is preventing you from working as you once did, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits through either or both of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs.
SSD Programs and Technical Eligibility
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which provides benefits to eligible workers who become disabled, requires you have sufficient work credits and limited monthly income from employment.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program that requires you have very limited income and other financial resources available to you.
Medical Eligibility Requirements
Being medically eligible for SSD benefits through either program means you must:
o has lasted, or is expected to last, at least a year or which is terminal
o So severely limits your abilities that it prevents gainful employment despite not meeting or matching a listed condition.
Listed Forms of Arthritis
The SSA’s Blue Book contains two primary sections related to arthritis:
· Section 14.09 – Inflammatory Arthritis – under which rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis would be reviewed.
Documenting Disability under Section 1.04
For disorders of the spine, the evidence required depends primarily on the area of the spine in which your arthritis is located. Generally speaking however, this listing requires you must document nerve root compression or spinal cord damage or compromise that specifically causes:
· Spinal movement limitations
· Loss of motor muscle control, including weakness or coordination problems or degeneration of motor muscles
· Loss of sensory reflexes or motor reflexes
Again, dependent upon where your spinal arthritis is present, your application may additionally need to document:
· Problems with standing and walking or otherwise moving about
Proving Disability under Listing 14.09
Inflammatory forms of arthritis are autoimmune in nature, which means documenting your disability under the listing in section 14.09 requires you prove the presence of inflammatory arthritic symptoms, but may also require you show the additional effects of the disorder on your other body systems or overall condition.
Documenting disability under this listing requires you show:
o A major joint in your upper body that severely limits your ability to complete tasks that require fine and/or gross motor control.
You can also prove disability under this listing by documenting the previously mentioned symptoms, in addition to:
· at least two of the body-wide affects of autoimmune disease, which may include:
o unintentional weight loss
o persistent fever
o severe fatigue
Other ways you can meet this listing include showing you experience:
o significant reduction in your ability to function socially
o marked limitations in completing tasks in a “normal” amount of time due to inability to concentrate, persist, or keep a consistent pace
Qualifying under a Medical Vocational Allowance
Even if your arthritis doesn’t meet or closely match one of these listing, you may still be able to qualify for disability benefits under a “medical vocational allowance”, which looks at your “residual functional capacity”, which is essentially your ability to complete normal everyday tasks, including typical job functions.
Submitting Your Application for SSD
You can complete your disability application online at the SSA’s website (www.ssa.gov) or in person at your local SSA office. To find a local office in your area, please visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/social-security-disability-locations
Be sure to schedule your appointment in advance, if you decide to complete your application at your local office. The online application process requires no wait and is often the fastest way to file a claim.
Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help