According to the federal government, 24% of the adult population of the U.S. have arthritis. More people claim it as the reason why they cannot work than any other cause of disability.
If you have been diagnosed with arthritis that is severe enough to prevent you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability. An arthritis lawyer or disability advocate at London Disability can help you determine if your medical condition is severe enough to meet the criteria used by the Social Security Administration to determine if you have a disability that qualifies for SSD benefit.
What is arthritis?
A common misconception about arthritis is that it only afflicts the elderly. Anyone, regardless of age, may develop joint pain and joint disease caused by any of the many types of arthritis.
Intensity of the symptoms associated with the disease may range from mild to severe and include one or more of the following:
- 1). Joint pain.
- 2). Stiffness.
- 3). Swelling.
- 4). Decreased range of motion.
Other symptoms may include weakness, fatigue and even loss of weight. Symptoms caused by arthritis generally may get worse as a person gets older with most treatments designed to lessen the pain and relieve some of the symptoms rather than produce a cure for the underlying medical condition.
Basic requirements to qualify for SSD
The Social Security Administration has two programs that pay disability benefits. The Social Security Disability Insurance program pays benefits to disabled workers “insured” under the program. To be insured and eligible for SSDI, you must have worked long enough at jobs or self-employment and paid Social Security taxes on the income.
The other disability program, Supplemental Security Income, pays benefits to disabled adults and children with limited incomes and resources. You do not need a work history to qualify for SSI.
Adults applying for SSI or SSDI must be disability, although SSI benefits are available to adults who are not blind or disabled who are at least 65 years of age. A person claiming to be disability must prove with medical records and other evidence that they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment preventing them from engaging in substantial gainful activity that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.
Does an arthritis disability qualify for SSD?
Social Security uses a five-step process to evaluate a disability claim. The following are the five steps in the process:
- 1). Evaluation of non-medical requirements: The first stage in the process for SSI looks at the income and resources of the applicant to make certain they do not exceed the maximum levels for the program. If a person is working and applying for SSDI, the first stage looks to see if their monthly earnings demonstrate an ability to engage in substantial gainful activity.
- 2). Severity of the physical or mental impairment: The person must be unable to perform basic work-related activities as a result of a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments. The impairments cannot be temporary or short term. Instead, they must be expected to last for at least 12 months or cause the death of the applicant.
- 3). Listing of Impairments: Social Security maintains lists of medical conditions affecting various parts and systems of the body considered severe enough to meet its definition of disability. If an applicant’s impairment or impairments equal or exceed the listing criteria, the person is found to be disabled.
- 4). Past relevant work: If an applicant’s medical condition does not meet or exceed the listing of impairments in the previous step for a finding of disabled, Social Security compares the person’s physical and mental capacity to perform work they did in the past. If the person cannot engage in past relevant work, the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.
- 5). Ability to perform other types of work: Unless Social Security can establish that an applicant for benefits can adjust to a different type of work given their age, education and work experience, the person will be found to be disabled.
The Listing of Impairments presents arthritis as a condition that may qualify a person for SSD benefits when it affects the hands, shoulders, knees, hips or back. For example, a spinal disorder resulting in a compromised nerve root may qualify provided it is accompanied by neurological impairment affecting the use of the hands.
What happens if your arthritis does criteria in the listings?
If your arthritis disability lawyer determines that your condition does not meet the criteria in the Listings of Impairments, you may still be approved for SSD benefits. A disability advocate at London Disability works with you and your doctors to present medical evidence to demonstrate how arthritis limits your ability to do activities, including walking, sitting, climbing steps, and lifting, and prevents you from engaging in most types of work.
Speak with a disability lawyer during a free consultation
The lawyers and disability advocates at London Disability have years of experience helping people with arthritis and other disabling medical conditions receive a monthly arthritis disability benefit through SSD. Learn more about how they can help you by scheduling a free consultation.