How severe does my arthritis have to be to get disability benefits?
Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) currently benefits millions of Americans and their families. However, many people who could benefit from the program are either unsure that they qualify or are intimidated by the process.
To see if your arthritis could qualify for SSDI, we must first understand how disabilities are evaluated
Types of Arthritis
There are many types of arthritis that affect people all over the world. The two main forms of joint pain are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that affects the lining of your joints. After some time, it can harm your joint ligament and bones resulting in stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis happens when ligaments in your joints wear out over time. Many people may wonder is arthritis a disability. Yes. Arthritis can prompt incapacity, as can numerous other mental and physical conditions. If your arthritis confines your daily movements, or activities you may qualify for disability benefits.
Your level of disability depends on the daily activities you find troublesome. For illustration, you'll have trouble:
- walking up stairs
- walking for a extended period of time
- standing or sitting
- grasping small objects
- lifting 10 pounds or more
- holding your arms up
Arthritis can cause your joints to encounter major dysfunction due to distortions such as misalignments, shortening of the joint or persistent pain and firmness. In case your condition has expanded to a dysfunction in any of your joints, you should qualify for benefits.
Your therapeutic records (X-rays) and an explanation from your specialist ought to demonstrate that your joint isn’t working normally. Your arthritis will appear as a deformity in your hip, lower leg or knees that creates difficulty to walk; or a disturbance in your shoulder, wrist or elbow that creates it difficulty to hold and lift items.
You'll naturally qualify for benefits in the event that your joint pain is influencing your spine and compromising any nerve roots inside the spinal line. Arthritis should cause your spinal cord to feel far reaching pain, restricted flexibility, and irritation that requires an alter in body position from time to time.
The causes of arthritis within the back or neck change depending on the sort of joint pain you have.
Regardless of the precise area, arthritis in the back or neck can be difficult and often turns out to be chronic. Other important information to keep in mind:
- Presence of certain conditions such as
- diabetes, psoriasis, tuberculosis, touchy bowel disorder and Lyme disease
Spinal joint pain may cause bone spurs — overgrowths on the edges of the bones. Within the spine, bone spurs especially influence facet joints, making them develop larger.
Qualifying with the Blue Book
Every application for SSDI is reviewed during the Disability Determination Process, or DDS. During this process, a reviewer will look over your case and see if it fulfills the requirements for benefits laid out in the Social Security Blue Book. The Blue Book, which can be viewed online, contains a list of all disabilities (and their severities) that qualify for Social Security.
For example: if you are looking to see if your inflammatory arthritis qualifies for benefits, you would see section 14.00 - “Immune System Disorders”. Under this section is outlined four different qualifications for inflammatory arthritis to receive benefits. Either
- There is persistent inflammation or deformity of your major joints,
- There is inflammation or deformity of your joints along with organ systems,
- There is an inflammation or deformity of the spine and/or its surrounding organs, or
- There are repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis which limit your movement, social functioning, and daily life.
Overall, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is more likely to qualify you for benefits the more severe your impairment is. If your arthritis is consistent, untreatable, severely debilitating, and/or prevents you from earning a living for more than one year, then the chances you will receive benefits are high.
If you do not meet the standards outlined in the Blue Book there may still be another way to qualify.
Medical Vocational Allowances
A sizable portion of people receiving SSDI do not have a Blue Book-verified impairment. This is due to medical vocational allowances. These are awarded when the SSA determines that your disease is not listed in the Blue Book, but is severe enough to require benefits anyway.
If your type of arthritis is either unlisted in the book or is questionably severe, you may still qualify for social security through a medical vocational allowance. To qualify, you must prove in your application that your arthritis is severe and debilitating enough to keep you from leading a normal life.
This means including evidence of every aspect of your impairment, from doctor’s notes to medical bills to tests, lab results, and surgery reports. You can even have your doctor fill out an RFC form, which is an official medical assessment that demonstrates your ability to function with your impairment.
Seeking Additional Advice
If you are considering applying for Social Security benefits, you should first consult with your primary care doctor. Not only can they provide copies of the paperwork necessary to apply, but their understanding of your medical history can help inform your decision.
You should also strongly consider speaking with a Social Security disability attorney. Their legal knowledge can help present your case as favorably as possible when applying for Social Security benefits, which is especially useful when your chances of qualifying are unsure.
For more information, you can review the Blue Book and application requirements on the SSA’s website.