National Arthritis Awareness Month is observed during May in an effort to bring awareness to arthritis and the need for additional advocacy and research while also encouraging physical activity among the adults who suffer from the condition. The Arthritis Foundation reports that more than 50 million Americans are affected by the disease, which is the leading cause for disability in the U.S. One of every 5 adults and 300,000 children are affected by arthritis.
Why Observe National Arthritis Month?
Arthritis Awareness Month helps bring awareness to the condition. The first steps in conquering the condition are understanding the condition, learning the facts, and knowing help and resources are available. By 2030, more than 67 million people are expected to be diagnosed with arthritis. Men and women who are of the working age – ages 18 to 64 – are less likely to be employed than those of the same age who don’t have arthritis.
About a third of individuals with arthritis who are of working age are limited in their working abilities, the kind of work that they can do, or whether they are able to work part-time or full-time. Individuals with the two major kinds of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis – miss an average of 172 million workdays annually.
Can I Qualify For Disability Benefits With Arthritis?
The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine eligibility. As an example, if you suffer from osteoarthritis of the spine, you could qualify through the Blue Book listing for spinal disorders. You must provide medical documentation showing that you have osteoarthritis in your spine as well as one of the following:
- Compression of the spinal nerve root that limits spine motion
- Narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar region causing difficulty walking
- Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane surrounding the nerves of the spinal cord causing the need to change posture or position more than once every two hours
Hard medical evidence is a necessity for a claim, and to qualify per the listing you must provide evidence that you meet the listing criteria.
Using The Medical Vocational Allowance
If you cannot qualify for disability benefits through a listing of the Blue Book, you may qualify with a medical vocational allowance. This approach takes your medical conditions, restrictions, limitations, age, work history, educational background, and skills into consideration.
Your physician should complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which will indicate how long you can stand, how frequently you must change positions, how far you can walk, if you can bend, how much you can carry, and so forth. The RFC will paint a picture of what you can and cannot do. Disability examiners will be able to determine what you can do and if you are capable of working.
Applying For Disability Benefits
If you suffer from disabling arthritis, you can apply for disability online at www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and speaking with a representative or by scheduling an appointment at your closest SSA field office. A disability attorney will increase your chances of having your claim approved.