Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the world. While most people with the disorder experience mild to moderate symptoms, others with severe osteoarthritis can experience joint damage, fatigue, and crippling pain.
The key to receiving approval for an osteoarthritis disability application is to understand the entire process. Applying for Social Security disability can take a considerable amount of time, from gathering the right documents you need for substantiating a claim to waiting for the SSA to make a decision.
Remember the SSA reviews tens of thousands of disability applications every year. The federal agency has established a large number of requirements that can take a lot of time to meet. You can read the requirements for osteoarthritis in the SSA Blue Book.
Above all, you should know that to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have missed at least 12 consecutive months of work. The SSA will not even look at your application, if you can not meet this important guideline.
If your severe osteoarthritis prevents you from working or performing normal daily tasks, then Social Security disability benefits may be an option. Disability benefits provide monthly financial security to those who need help due to their disorders. While getting benefits for your disorder may seem daunting, below are the four best ways to give you the best chance at qualifying.
Tip #1: Receive up-to-date MRIs and mobility tests of affected areas.
Osteoarthritis is a very common disorder, making it difficult for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to qualify applicants with this diagnosis. In order to be eligible, applicants must show that their symptoms are severe enough to hinder them on a daily basis. One of the best ways to do this is with hard evidence like up-to-date medical tests and scans.
For instance, MRIs are essential for demonstrating the severity of osteoarthritis in affected areas like the spine or joints. Mobility tests can also be used to measure the limited movement of affected areas. The more medical evidence can attest to your severe condition, the more likely you are to receive benefits.
Tip #2: Consult with The SSA Blue Book
The Blue Book issued by the SSA lists every disability that the agency can approve for benefits. Referred to as Disability Evaluation under Social Security, the Blue Book presents clearly defined criteria that claimants must follow to have a disability application approved.
Each listing covers a wide range of symptoms that cover specific ailments. By reading the osteoarthritis section of the SSA Blue Book, you will learn whether what you think is a disability is considered a disability under Blue Book guidelines.
The Blue Book also presents detailed information about the Social Security Disability Insurance program, as well information that describes the Supplemental Security Insurance program.
Tip #2: Receive an RFC test from your physician.
RFC tests are also important to demonstrate how your osteoarthritis affects your day-to-day life. These tests measure your functioning capacity in a variety of areas (lifting, grasping, stamina, ability to sit/stand, etc.) to help the SSA better understand how capable you are of taking care of yourself. Lower scores on RFC tests indicate an inability to function at normal levels, which can help applicants to receive disability benefits.
Tip #3: Compile a list of all current and previous treatment options, especially those that have failed.
With disorders like osteoarthritis, there are multiple treatment options available for people depending on the severity of their case. If the SSA believes that there are treatment options available to you that you haven’t explored, they are more likely to deny your claim. However, by demonstrating your current and past medication lists, the SSA can more clearly see what options you have or haven’t tried. If it is shown that your osteoarthritis continues to persist despite previous treatment, you are more likely to receive benefits.
Tip #3: Determine if your previous work experience qualifies you for a medical vocational allowance.
If you do not meet the official Social Security qualifications for osteoarthritis, there may still be a way for you to receive benefits. If you are able to demonstrate that your condition is too severe for you to return to any work you’ve been trained for, you can qualify for a “medical vocational allowance”. For example, if you are a professional landscaper and develop osteoarthritis, it may be impossible to return to work due to the physical demands of the job. In this case, the SSA may grant you monthly benefits to compensate for your loss of income. The more you can demonstrate an inability to work, the more likely you are to receive benefits.
Tip #4: Avoid Common Disability Application Mistakes
There are no do overs when it comes to submitting a Social Security disability application. Take your time filling out the form and make sure to triple check it for accuracy.
One incorrect number in the Social Security number column can trigger an immediate denial by the SSA. The more lost wage and medical cost details you can provide, the better chance you have for the SSA to approve your disability application.
Medical cost details include copies of every bill you received for the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of osteoarthritis. You might have to wait several months, before the SSA renders a binding decision.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
If disability benefits sound like a good fit for you, you may also want to look into consulting with a disability attorney. While this may seem intimidating, attorneys are a great help during the application process and can set your mind at ease by handling the tougher aspects of the procedure. Even if your case is initially denied, attorneys give applicants a much higher chance for a successful appeal and are invaluable during the legal process.
To give yourself the best chance at receiving benefits for you osteoarthritis, consider scheduling a free consultation with a disability attorney today.