How Severe Does My Arthritis Have To Be to get Disability Benefits?
In the case of arthritis, you must receive medical treatment for at least three months before the SSA will make a determination regarding the extent and severity of your condition and whether it qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits.
Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) currently benefits millions of Americans and their families. However, many people who could benefit from the program are either unsure that they qualify or are intimidated by the process.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability with arthritis, you must meet the basic disability requirements set by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and your condition must prevent you from performing any available work. Additionally, the condition must be expected to last at least one year from the time of onset.
Every application for SSDI is reviewed during the Disability Determination Process, or DDS. During this process, a reviewer will look over your case and see if it fulfills the requirements for benefits laid out in the Social Security Blue Book. The Blue Book, which can be viewed online, contains a list of all disabilities (and their severities) that qualify for Social Security.
For example: if you are looking to see if your inflammatory arthritis qualifies for benefits, you would see section 14.00 - “Immune System Disorders”. Under this section is outlined four different qualifications for inflammatory arthritis to receive benefits.
· There is persistent inflammation or deformity of your major joints,
· There is inflammation or deformity of your joints along with organ systems,
· There is an inflammation or deformity of the spine and/or its surrounding organs, or
· There are repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis which limit your movement, social functioning, and daily life.
If your arthritis is consistent, untreatable, severely debilitating, and/or prevents you from earning a living for more than one year, there is a good chance you can receive benefits.
If you do not meet the standards outlined in the Blue Book, however, there may still be an option.
Medical Vocational Allowances
A sizable portion of people receiving SSDI do not have a Blue Book-verified impairment. This is due to medical vocational allowances. These are awarded when the SSA determines that your disease is not listed in the Blue Book, but severe enough to require benefits anyway.
To qualify, you must prove in your application that your arthritis is severe and debilitating enough to keep you from leading a normal life.
This means including evidence of every aspect of your impairment, from doctor’s notes to medical bills to tests, lab results, and surgery reports. You can even have your doctor fill out an RFC form, which is an official medical assessment that demonstrates your ability to function with your impairment.
Statistically, your best chance of having a Social Security Disability case approved because of arthritis comes during your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
During this hearing, you will be allowed to have representation, and will also be allowed to make your case in person regarding why your arthritic condition keeps you from being able to work. You will also be allowed to bring witnesses who can testify on your behalf regarding the effects your condition has had on your ability to work.
If the SSA determines that your arthritis precludes you from performing any kind of available work, they will approve your claim and you will begin receiving social Security Disability benefits. It is worth noting that most initial claims are denied.
If your claim is denied, you should consider consulting a Social Security Disability attorney regarding the best way to go about the appeals process. Todd Renda of Renda Law in Tacoma can help. We work have helped many people with arthritis get the benefits they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation.
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