Top 5 Tips on Applying for Disability with Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers rheumatoid arthritis as a disability, however in order to qualify for disability with rheumatoid arthritis it needs to be advanced enough where you can no longer work full time.

That means that your rheumatoid arthritis has to be so severe that you will be out of work for at least 12 months. You must also have enough work credits to qualify for disability with rheumatoid arthritis.

You must meet the SSA's medical criteria for rheumatoid arthritis and have enough work credits, you will be able to qualify for disability benefits with rheumatoid arthritis.

When you apply for disability with RA, there are some tips that can help strengthen your disability application and can help increase your chances of qualifying for disability. Here are the top 5 tips on qualifying for disability with rheumatoid arthritis.

Tip #1: Seeing If Your Rheumatoid Arthritis a Disability

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disability, which means that you are able to get disability with rheumatoid arthritis. 

Your rheumatoid arthritis needs to meet the medical requirements outlined in the SSA’s Blue Book to qualify for disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration relies upon the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, commonly known as the Blue Book, to help understand how a medical condition impacts the ability to work. 

The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify disability. When you send in your SSDI application, the SSA will look at your application and see if it matches with the Blue book listing for inflammatory arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis can qualify under section 14.09 of the SSA’s Blue Book under inflammatory arthritis. 

When completing your application for disability for rheumatoid arthritis, you will want to include all imaging results used to reach your diagnosis including x-rays, sonograms, MRIs and any other imaging that was done.

If you can medically meet the requirements that the SSA has for rheumatoid arthritis, then you may be able to qualify for disability.

The most important thing that you need to know in order to qualify for disability for rheumatoid arthritis is to make sure that you have detailed medical records and medical history to back up your claim that you can no longer work because of your rheumatoid arthritis.

Tip #2: Ensure Your Medical History is Lengthy and Detailed

RA is a progressive disease and the SSA needs to see how your illness has worsened over time.

The second tip in order to get disability for RA is that you need to make sure your medical history is detailed.

The SSA must have a formal diagnosis with your application, including the date of the disease’s onset, in addition to detailed medical records showing you have consistently sought qualified medical care and followed prescribed treatments.

Detailed medical records are the key to approval for disability benefits and a lengthy medical history ensures the SSA has the proof necessary to evaluate your claim. 

Details records allow the disability examiners to understand the full extent of your RA symptoms and how your symptoms affect your ability to perform everyday job functions.

Tip #3: Work Closely with Your Rheumatologist to Confirm Work Limitations

Although the SSA has a standard disability listing under which RA is reviewed, they will likely need to see a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation from your doctor as well. 

This report must detail your symptoms and the limitations they place on your everyday abilities.

You will need to have your physician fill out a Residual Functional Capacity form to certify how much work, if any, you are capable of performing given your condition.

The RFC is crucial when it comes to applying for benefits because it is a determination of the maximum amount of work you are capable of performing, and since your doctor is the one who certifies it, the SSA can rely on these findings to make their decision.

If you have RA. Get a free evaluation todayThe SSA will decide whether your condition would allow you to work in a different job, or perhaps with accommodations, or if work of any kind is out of the question.

The opinion of a rheumatologist holds the most weight. Work closely with your doctor to accurately reflect your everyday limitations of rheumatoid arthritis and remember that your doctor works for you.

Be sure to include a complete medical history of your condition, including the diagnosis, test results and treatment plan. 

Talk with your doctor about your application so that your doctor can help you obtain the information you need to support your claim.

Make sure you talk with your doctor early on about your intention to file for disability benefits so that your doctor can keep notes on your rheumatoid arthritis that will help him or her to fill out the RFC form in a timely manner.

Tip #4: Clearly Establish Your Work Limitations through Medical and Work History Records

Some people with RA can continue to work for many years following their diagnosis. Even after workers are unable to perform more strenuous and physical job duties, many can still do sedentary work, at least for a time.

To be approved for disability with rheumatoid arthritis, you must ensure your medical records and your work history show you are no longer able to keep a physical or even sedentary job. Be sure to document specific job duties and the symptoms that now prevent you from completing those duties. Use the following to achieve your goal:

  • answers in the disability application,

  • work records, including performance evaluations and attendance documents,

  • statements from former employers,

  • and reports completed by your doctor


If you are able to show the SSA that your rheumatoid arthritis limits your ability to work full time, then you might be able to qualify for disability. 

Tip #5: You Have a Disability Lawyer Help You With Your Case

A disability lawyer can greatly increase your chances of qualifying for disability with RA. Studies have shown that those who hire a disability lawyer are 3x more likely to qualify for disability than those who do not. 

When you set out to apply for Social Security disability benefits with RA, it can be an overwhelming task to gather all of the necessary medical documentation and information about your work history to prove you qualify for disability with rheumatoid arthritis. You also have to be sure that the application has been completed properly.

If you have RA. Get a free evaluation todayIf you don’t have anyone who can help you with the disability application process for rheumatoid arthritis, or if you need more help beyond what your friends and family are able to provide, you might consider working with a Social Security disability attorney.

Disability attorneys understand the process and will make sure your application has everything it needs, and they can help you obtain any additional information that will help to make your claim as strong as possible.

A Social Security lawyer or disability advocate familiar with how the SSA handles rheumatoid arthritis claims can help you:

  • prepare your application,

  • collect the necessary evidence for supporting your claim for benefits,

  • understand communications you receive from the Social Security Administration,

  • Tell you how much disability you can get.

An attorney can also help in a number of other ways throughout the application and review processes, including handling your appeal, if you are denied disability.

While working with a disability attorney does not guarantee that you will win your case, having a disability advocate working on your behalf will greatly improve your chances of being approved for disability with RA.


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