How to Apply for Social Security Disability with Arthritis

Arthritis - Applying for Social Security

If you suffer from arthritis that is so severe that it impacts your ability to work, you may be eligible to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees disability programs that offer monthly benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of medical conditions. To qualify for disability benefits from the SSA, you must be fully disabled as no partial benefits are offered. There are two kinds of Social Security Disability benefits offered, and which you qualify for depends on your work history and your financial situation.

There are two types of disability benefits available for people with arthritis. Medically qualifying for each will be exactly the same, but the programs will have their own technical qualifications.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for workers who have earned sufficient credits. In general, this means you must have worked the equivalent of five years full-time out of the last 10 years, but that can vary dependent upon age. To qualify, you have had to pay in adequate taxes to the SSA, which in turn, resulted in your earning credits that apply toward your account. So long as you’ve worked at least five of the past ten years, you should qualify.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based disability program that is based on your income. There are stringent income and resource requirements that must be met to qualify for SSI. If you had worked to earn sufficient credits and receive SSDI, but your monthly benefits are low enough, you can also qualify for SSI as well. Disabled children or adults without sufficient work history can also qualify for SSI benefits. You monthly SSI check can vary, dependent upon your other income. The current maximum SSI benefit rate for individuals is $733 and $1,100 for couples.

The SSA Evaluation Process for Disability Approval

Arthritis can meet medical qualifications in the Blue Book, which is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine disability. In the Blue Book, the Musculoskeletal System is listed under Section 1.00, which also includes osteoarthritis. To meet the criteria to be determined disabled because of arthritis, you must prove that your arthritis pain is so severe that it impacts your ability to do daily tasks, and impacts your mobility. Your medical records must be thorough, indicating any treatments or medications you have taken and how you responded to those treatments and therapies.

Section 1.02 addresses Joint Dysfunction, which indicates that your impacted joints must suffer chronic pain, loss of motion, stiffness, or what is referred to as “gross anatomical deformity”. Your medical files need to include images that show narrowing of spaces, stiffness or fusion, or bony destruction of the joints that are impacted.

You can also qualify for Social Security with arthritis by proving that at least one of your weight-bearing joints, such as a knee, ankle, spine, or hip, is impacted to the point that you cannot walk without an assistive device such as crutches or a walker, which limits the functioning of both arms, and in maintaining a pace considered reasonable as you walk a sufficient distance or that your shoulder, wrist, elbow, or hand have been severely impacted so you cannot perform fine gross motor skills, such as fingering, pushing, or pulling.

Applying for Benefits

You can start the disability application process online at http://www.SSA.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-772-1213. You can also visit your local SSA office and start your application in person. The key to a successful claim is providing thorough documentation that supports your case and proves the severity of your condition and how it limits your ability to work. With enough medical evidence to support your claim, you could be approved in a couple of months.

Helpful Links

SSA Website: http://www.SSA.govSocial Security Disability Insurance: http://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disability-insurance/how-to-qualify

Social Security Income: http://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/supplemental-security-income/how-to-qualify

SSA Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

SSA Blue Book Listing 1.02: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/1.00-Musculoskeletal-Adult.htm – 1_02

Rachel Gaffney

Rachel Gaffney

Outreach Specialist at Disability Benefits Help
Rachel Gaffney is an Outreach Specialist at Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages receive the Social Security disability benefits they deserve. She currently lives in Boston, MA but helps those seeking assistance nationwide. If you have any questions on this article or would like a little more information on how to qualify for disability benefits, she can be reached at rsg@ssd-help.org.
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