Rheumatoid arthritis can be devastating to its victims. It is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that affects the joints and, quite often, the eyes, skin, heart, lungs and blood vessels. It makes it difficult to take part in everyday life including, in its more advanced stages, going to work without assistance from others.
Using an RFC When Applying for Benefits with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Not all victims of rheumatoid arthritis will have the symptoms listed in the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book. Even though the SSA has a standard disability listing for reviewing rheumatoid arthritis, it is most likely it will ask for a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation conducted by your doctor.
The report should include thorough details of your symptoms and the limitations you have to take part in day to day activities. The RFC is evaluated by the SSA and assists the SSA to make decisions about the amount of paid work you can actually do in the next 12 months when living with rheumatoid arthritis. The sorts of activities it will look at are the weight you can pull or lift, how long you are able to stand up without having to take a rest and if you can walk unaided; also, whether you can move your hands or feet easily or not.
How To Use the RFC When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
If the RFC compiled by your doctor proves that your rheumatoid arthritis restricts your ability to work by 20 percent, this should be enough to win a disability benefit claim. For example, let’s say you are now at least 60 years of age or more and you have been working as a truck driver all your working life.
You now have rheumatoid arthritis, but your symptoms are not in the Blue Book. Your RFC should enable you to claim disability benefits. This is because the effects of rheumatoid arthritis mean you may have difficulty at your age re-skilling.
The SSA, after reviewing your RFC, may get you to complete an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) report. In this report you should include how the rheumatoid arthritis is affecting your overall enjoyment of life.
There may be activities like jogging, kayaking or visits to the fitness center that you loved doing but can no longer participate. It will also ask you to describe how you go about accomplishing everyday tasks like grocery shopping, cooking keeping up a high level of personal hygiene and what assistance you need.
What Documents to Include With Your RFC for Rheumatoid Arthritis
When you file a request for disability benefits through your RFC assessment performed by your doctor the SSA will need documentary evidence to support your claim. This should include at least the following:
- written rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis by a doctor;
- the doctor’s report showing the occurrence and severity of the symptoms;
- results of a blood test indicating the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, like positive rheumatoid factor;
- treatment history and results;
- test results, like imaging studies or any results that measure the motion and range of the spine;
- evidence that the rheumatoid arthritis is present in a joint in one or more of your legs which makes it difficult to walk unaided;
- your rheumatoid arthritis affects joints in your arms so you cannot undertake any tasks;
- your rheumatoid arthritis shows at least two of symptoms like fever, fatigue, malaise, or loss of weight that makes it hard to undergo tasks.
SSDI or SSI Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are two routes to get disability benefits. One is through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is for workers who have accumulated sufficient work credits to qualify.
If you have not been able to get credited with enough work credits, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but only if your income falls below a specific threshold when your household income is assessed. You must provide the right evidence to the SSA concerning your eligibility for either SSDI or SSI.
You May Need Help With your RFC for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of those medical conditions that can affect the movement of your joints so completing the paperwork for a disability benefit’s claim may not be too easy and you could have your claim denied. To try to avoid a denial, you should discuss your rheumatoid arthritis disability claim with a disability lawyer.
Getting Help With Your Claim
A disability lawyer who is experienced with handling rheumatoid arthritis claims can assist you in a number of ways like preparing your application for the SSA, collecting and checking the validity of your supporting evidence and explain to you any communications you may receive from the SSA. Complete the Free Case Evaluation.