Social Security Disability Benefits for Ankylosing Spondylitis
If you have a severe case of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) that keeps you from working, you may be eligible to receive monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that is often diagnosed in young men, but it can impact male or female of any age. A lifelong chronic condition, there is no cure for AS.
Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:
- Decreased mobility
- Chronic fatigue
- Painful legs
- Tendon and ligament pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Inflammation of the eyes
It can be challenging to diagnose as its symptoms are not always specific to ankylosing spondylitis alone. Tests used to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis can include x-rays, physical exams, and genetic testing.
Being a challenge to diagnose, ankylosing spondylitis can lead to delays in treatment and deteriorating health for those suffering from AK. Most common treatments include occupational therapy and physical therapy.
There are anti-inflammatory medications used to manage the pain and in severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be required. Regular rheumatologist visits, and exercise are often required to help make the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis tolerable and to reduce the severity of the pain.
Because joint disorders often keep you from working, you might be able to apply for Social Security disability benefits for Ankylosing Spondylitis. It is one of the spine disorders that qualify for disability. Consult with the SSA's guide to see if you qualify under the listing for ankylosing spondylitis. Doing so is one of the most important signs your disability claim will be approved.
Is Ankylosing Spondylitis a Disability?
Yes, you can get disability for ankylosing spondylitis. You’ll need to provide medical evidence to show you qualify for benefits. You can use the Blue Book listing as a guide to determine what kind of medical evidence you need. Ankylosing Spondylitis can be found in Section 14 under paragraph 14.09 in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify for disability.
The SSA will grant disability benefits for ankylosing spondylitis whose spinal fusion or flexion means that their ability to see in front of them, above them, and/or to the side is limited, so their ability to walk is affected. The following symptoms will help to qualify you for disability benefits
- fixation of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine at 45° or more of flexion from the vertical position.
- fixation of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine at 30° or more of flexion from the vertical position, plus involvement of two or more organs/body systems, one of which must be involved to at least a moderate severity level.
- victims diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis sometimes suffer from eye inflammation or heart, lung, kidney, or gastrointestinal disease. These symptoms will also help the victim qualify for disability benefits.
Ankylosing spondylitis can be diagnosed from findings after radiographic and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have taken place. This is the evidence the SSA will require to prove the presence of ankylosing spondylitis Radiography and MRI are also useful in monitoring the disease. Spinal X-rays may allow a doctor to view the inflammation or fusing of the vertebrae. Take our free disability evaluation to see if you qualify for disability with AS.
The Cost of Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic disorder that will impact you for the rest of your life. According to a study conducted by the National Centers of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), AS can be an expensive condition for one to suffer from.
The study confirmed that the cost of treatment increased with the flare ups or activity of ankylosing spondylitis in the patients, with the average ankylosing spondylitis sufferer paying out as much as $20,000 to $50,000 for treatment during his or her lifetime.
Of course if the condition is so severe that multiple joint replacement procedures are needed, the cost will climb even higher. If you have health insurance, you will have copays, deductibles and coinsurance, which can run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars out of pocket for treating ankylosing spondylitis
Medical Approval For Disability For Ankylosing Spondylitis
If your ankylosing spondylitis is severe enough to keep you from being able to work, you may be eligible for monthly disability benefits from the SSA. Ankylosing spondylitis would be evaluated using Section 14.09C of the Blue Book, which is the medical guide made of a list of disabilities that is used by the SSA to determine if you meet the criteria set forth by the SSA to receive benefits. Section 14.09C focuses on Inflammatory Arthritis.
In order to qualify with ankylosing spondylitis, you have to be able to demonstrate one of the following:
- Fixation of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine that is measured on physical examination at 45 degrees or more flexion from the vertical position OR
- A fixation of the cervical spine or dorsolumbar spine that is measured at 30 degrees or more of flexion but less than 45 degrees when measured from the vertical position. There must also be the involvement of at least two body systems with a modern amount of severity.
If you can’t meet these requirements, you may be able to qualify for disability using another section from under 14.09, Inflammatory Arthritis. You will have to provide detailed medical records, lab results, test records and documentation and confirmation from your doctors to gain medical approval.
If you have other medical conditions in addition to your ankylosing spondylitis, you should also mention them and the symptoms that they cause you. All of your conditions combined may warrant approval for benefits using the medical approach.
Approval for Disability for Ankylosing Spondylitis Using a Residual Functioning Capacity
If you don’t meet the medical requirements for disability benefits for ankylosing spondylitis, you may still be able to get approved using a residual functional capacity (RFC). This form is to be completed by your treating physician and should clearly state any limitations or restrictions that you have because of the condition.
If you are unable to stand for more than two hours because of severe back and leg pain without having to be repositioned, your doctor needs to indicate that on your RFC.
If you suffer from chronic fatigue and fevers, you may not be able to work at a desk very long. Inflammation of the eyes can impact your ability to complete paperwork hours on end or affect your vision when it comes to reading instructions or manuals.
When pain from ankylosing spondylitis is so severe that you have to take opioids or narcotics, they can keep you from being able to operate equipment, focus, drive, or even stay awake. That should also be noted clearly on the form.
The RFC is used in conjunction with the medical-vocational allowance, which considers your condition and symptoms, your work experience, your age, your educational level, and any transferable skills that you have.
Disability Determination Services then look to see if you can do some other kind of work if you are unable to return to your traditional job. If it is determined that you can perform no work at all, you may be granted approval for monthly disability for ankylosing spondylitis.
Further Reading: "Permanent Restrictions for Ankylosing Spondylitis"
You Could Earn Up To $3,627 Per Month. Find Out If You Qualify Today!
Applying for Social Security disability with ankylosing spondylitis can be a detailed and complicated process. You must provide thorough medical records and adequate documentation to support your case. You may start the process online at SSA.gov, by phone at 1-800-772-1213, or in-person by visiting your nearest Social Security office.
You may want to use the help of a disability attorney. Take our SSDI calculator to see how much you could get with disability benefits. A disability attorney can help you apply for disability benefits and can tell you how much disability you can get.
You can experience two denials, which you can appeal, before requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge. An attorney can make sure all of your documents are in order and represent you at the hearing, helping increase your odds for benefits approval.
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