Using an RFC When Applying for Disability Benefits with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a condition that is not directly listed in the Blue Book. This means you may have to use a RFC to prove your condition stops you from going to work. RFC stands for "Residual Functional Capacity" and is what you are able to do when inflicted with osteoarthritis, both physical or mentally.

If you are not eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because your condition is not in the Blue Book, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will use your medical records to evaluate your RFC before deciding on your eligibility for SSDI. The SSA may ask a doctor appointed by it to conduct a medical examination before it arrives at a decision. Some of the key features it is looking for include participating in physical activities, such as sitting, standing or lifting.

How to Use the RFC When You Have Osteoarthritis

Qualifying for disability benefits through an RFC for osteoarthritis is not necessarily straightforward. This is because it is not directly listed in the Blue Book. If your osteoarthritis fails to meet the requirements in a listing, it is down to you to prove that the osteoarthritis you have to live with means that you are unable to do any type of job over the next 12 months.

The key things about the evaluation of your RFC when you have osteoarthritis are how tired you get throughout the day and whether you can walk, lift or carry anything. If you are able to prove through the RFC that your ability to undertake daily tasks is reduced by 20 percent due to the osteoarthritis and its side effects, you may be able to win your claim for disability benefits.

For example, if you are more than 60 years old and you have been working as a delivery driver all your life and you now have osteoarthritis but it isn’t listed in the Blue Book you should be able to use the RFC to be eligible for disability benefits. This is because the chances are your symptoms from osteoarthritis will mean you probably cannot retrain to do another job.

Using an RFC When Applying for Disability Benefits with Osteoarthritis

What Documents to Include With Your RFC For Osteoarthritis

If you are unable to find your osteoarthritis in the Blue Book and your only chance of being eligible for disability benefits is through your RFC, the SSA will require evidence to support your claim. This should include at least the following:

  • your osteoarthritis symptoms in a written log showing how the disease has progressed;
  • a description of how your mobility is affected due to the use of weight-bearing joints like knee, hip and ankle;
  • a description of how your peripheral joints like your elbow, shoulder wrist, and hands are affected by the osteoarthritis;
  • any obvious physical deformity which can be seen on your joints like contractures, subluxation, fibrous or bony ankyloses;
  • any instability in your joints caused directly by osteoarthritis;
  • descriptions by your doctor of your diagnosis and the treatment you have received and its side-effects;
  • the types of prescribed and over-the-counter medications you have been taking and their side-effects and the name of the physician who prescribed them;
  • the names and contact details of all the physicians who have treated you;
  • names, full addresses, dates of treatment at your medical facility.

As well as your RFC report, the SSA may require you to complete an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) report. In this you should provide details of how your osteoarthritis is influencing how much you are enjoying life, such as if you require assistance with grocery shopping, cooking and maintaining a high standard of personal hygiene. There may be some activities you used to enjoy, like cycling, surfing and swimming, which you can no longer do because of the effects of osteoarthritis.

SSDI or SSI Benefits for /medical-evidence/osteoarthritis

The SSA typically has two different disability benefits which victims of osteoarthritis may be able to access. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is in place for workers who have over time accumulated enough work credits to qualify. If you do not have these work credits you could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if your income level is below a certain level in your household.

You May Need Help With your RFC for Cancer

Trying to complete forms to back up your RFC may be just too painful if your wrists and fingers have been affected by osteoarthritis. Also if the evidence you have to support your SSDI or SSI disability benefit claim isn’t enough your application may be denied. To try to avoid the potential for a denial you should discuss your claim with a disability lawyer.

How To Find Help For Your Claim

An experienced disability lawyer will know how to file a claim to the SSA on your behalf whether it is SSDI or SSI. She or he will ensure you have all the evidence required to win the claim. Complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page today!

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