The development of osteoarthritis typically begins as a dull pain in one or more joints. However, what was once an annoying dull pain can morph into excruciating pain that makes it impossible to continue working at your current job.
Excruciatingly painful symptoms of osteoarthritis should compel you to apply for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Before you file your osteoarthritis claim with the SSA, learn about the five signs you may be approved for disability benefits.
Sign 1: Accrue Enough Work Credits
You have to accrue a certain number of work credits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Calculated from annual wages or the income generated from self-employment, the SSA requires disability benefits applicants to earn $1,410 for every work credit. How many work credits you need to accumulate depends on your age when a physician diagnosed your osteoarthritis symptoms.
The wages or income required to earn one work credit changes every couple of years. The $1,410 figure to earn one work credit comes from 2020.
Sign 2: Submit Convincing Medical Evidence
After you meet the non-medical requirement for Social Security disability benefits, the next step involves collecting and organizing persuasive medical evidence to support your claim.
Diagnostic tests that include x-rays and MRIs can demonstrate the development of osteoarthritis in one or more joints. The tests can also explain the severity of your osteoarthritis symptoms.
You should also submit a copy of your medical history, as well as a prognosis for a full recovery that is signed by your doctor. Getting your disability benefits approved for osteoarthritis requires the submission of strong medical evidence.
Sign 3: Meet the Missed Work Requirement
The goal of the Social Security disability benefits program is to help qualified applicants cover the costs of medical bills and lost wages.
Eligibility for lost wages and medical expenses requires a worker to have missed 12 consecutive months of work. Since osteoarthritis is a medical condition in which its symptoms improve and worsen over time, you might return to work after four months of being out, and then leave again for another eight months because your symptoms have worsened.
Although you missed 12 months of work, you did not miss 12 consecutive months of work.
Sign 4: Meet the Medical Guidelines in the Blue Book
Medical examiners at the SSA refer to the Blue Book to determine eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. If you do not meet the criteria for osteoarthritis, the SSA will deny your claim.
You should not give up, as you have the right to file an appeal that often includes undergoing a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment.
Completing an RFC, which is administered by a physician at the SSA, can give the team of medical examiners a better idea about what you can and cannot do on the job. For example, an RFC for osteoarthritis might include one or more arm and leg exercises to measure your mobility.
Sign 5: Work with a Social Security Disability Attorney
By working with a Social Security disability lawyer, you receive guidance on how to submit the most convincing claim. Since the SSA denies a majority of disability claims, you might have to go through the appeal process.
Your attorney can explain what to expect for an RFC assessment that measures the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms, as well as organize the evidence you need to get your disability claim approved by the SSA.
Most Social Security disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which gives them the motivation to fight hard for their clients.