Is Rheumatoid Arthritis a Disability?

Yes, rheumatoid arthritis is considered a disability. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis that is so severe you cannot work and earn a living, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

There is a rheumatoid arthritis listing in the Blue Book, and if your condition meets the specific criteria that are listed for rheumatoid arthritis, you will be awarded disability benefits.  Rheumatoid arthritis claims are reviewed under Section 14.09, which is called Inflammatory Arthritis.

Kinds of Rheumatoid Arthritis That Are a Disability

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect different joints in the body, such as the legs, feet, hands, arms, or back. To qualify for disability benefits per the listing for rheumatoid arthritis, you must show that the following apply to your situation:

  • Deformity or pain in any joint of your upper arms that makes it difficult to perform fine motor skills like writing or filing papers
  • Deformity or pain in any joint that is weight-bearing, such as a hip or a knee
  • Difficulty with mobility and getting around, which may require the need for a cane, crutches, a walker, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • Involvement of any organ, such as pulmonary or cardiac conditions that are related to your arthritis diagnosis
  • Unexplained fevers
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Severe malaise or fatigue
  • Any problems related to other systems of your body

How To Get Disability for Rheumatoid Arthritis

You will need to provide medical test results that confirm the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis as well as the severity of the symptoms and how they affect your daily living.  The following medical tests should be included in your medical records for Disability Determination Services to review for your disability claim for rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Blood antibody tests – ANA, RF, and anti-CCP; most people with RA have a positive RF test
  • Inflammation blood tests – ESR and CRP that shows inflammation in your system
  • Imaging tests – x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other tests

The SSA defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. You will need to have hard medical evidence that confirms your diagnosis and that supports your disability claim.


Get Help with Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability Claim

If you have rheumatoid arthritis that makes it impossible for you to work and earn a living, you may qualify for disability benefits from the SSA. A disability attorney could be an asset to your claim because a lawyer may know what supporting evidence your claim needs to advance and can help you gather all the hard medical evidence and documentation you need to show the severity of your condition.

If you are applying for disability benefits because of rheumatoid arthritis, you should enlist the help of a disability attorney. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share the details with a disability attorney who can review the details of your claim.

Additional Resources

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