How can I qualify for Social Security disability if I have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis? Does your rheumatoid arthritis prevent you from working and functionally like you normally would? You may be qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects over 2 million Americans mostly women.
This disease can cause swelling of joint linings, and can lead to joint pain, bone erosion, or joint deformity. Severe cases can even affect your other organs, such as your skin, eyes, blood vessels, and lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the minor joints in your hands and feet but can quickly damage your knee, shoulder, elbow, and hip joints. When rheumatoid arthritis gets bad enough, it can force you to discontinue employment. There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, though several treatment options exist including medication, physical therapy, or surgery. Rheumatoid arthritis is a highly disabling disease and may prevent you from working. For those afflicted with RA, many will experience peaks and valleys of symptoms and relief, but for some, the disease may be so severe that daily lives are forever altered due to an array of debilitating symptoms, both physical and psychological. Issues of depression, anxiety and low self esteem often compound the intense severity of their physical RA, virtually disabling every area of one’s life. Changes to both work and family life are evident, but in some instances, pain-relieving drugs, rest, exercise and a healthy diet can relieve some of the discomfort associated with RA. Others may experience a total disruption of daily functionality.
If you are unable to maintain gainful employment due to your rheumatoid arthritis, paying your bills can be a challenge, thankfully however, there are systems in place to help you get financial relief.
Our dedicated disability lawyers can help you apply for disability assistance, or appeal for benefits if you have previously been denied. The complicated application process for disability benefits can take months, and even after all that time your application may still be denied.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
The Social Security Administration lists rheumatoid arthritis under section 14.09 inflammatory arthritis.
According to the SSA if your condition is moderate or severe, you may be entitled to benefits if you can show that your disease:
- Is in your leg joints and causes significant difficulty walking.
- Affects joints in both of your arms, causing difficulty with different tasks.
- Your inflammation or joint deformity is present in your major joints and organs, causing additional harmful symptoms
- Your RA and other symptoms regularly flare up, making day-to-day activities difficult
- Your spine has joint disease and deformity caused by your RA
The SS Administration uses the information outlined in the current edition of the Primer on Rheumatoid Arthritis, by the Arthritis Foundation, when evaluating rheumatoid arthritis disability claims.
Medical records and a supportive doctor can be very helpful in achieving a favorable decision.
In order to get approved for disability, your medical records must display the following:
- A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis
- Results of a blood test displaying the likelihood of rheumatoid arthritis (such as a positive rheumatoid factor and ANA findings)
- Documentation from a physician outlining the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
- A record of any treatments tried and what effect they had, and
- Additional medical test results such as imaging studies or those that measure the range of motion of the spine.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a highly debilitating disease, greatly impacting your ability to maintain financial security.
Take the steps today to discover if you might qualify for assistance to improve you and your family’s quality of life.
Bemis, Roach & Reed was hired by a Cedar Park woman who filed on her own behalf for disability insurance benefits beginning February 1, 2005—later amended to allege onset beginning January 1, 2008.
The claimant was fifty-five years of age and had been employed as a Medical Review Officer’s Assistant for a substance abuse facility from 1992 to 2004. She cleaned her home, painted, gardened, walked, bicycled and loved to dance. Her activities were reduced to eating breakfast, watching television if her health or physical limitations allowed, “maybe” dusting furniture and washing clothes. She would likely nap and then start dinner, eat, take a bath and then lie in bed to watch television.
Sadly, her story is all too familiar.
I have yet to hear from a client that he or she intended to, desired, or hoped for a life filled with pain, frustration, and the inability to do those things he or she loved and enjoyed so immensely. This client reported increasing impairments caused by rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, osteoporosis, degenerative neck disease and spinal stenosis. Her treatment reports also revealed problems with weight gain, generalized fatigue, blurry vision and dryness of the eyes. Having failed to achieve a favorable ruling from the Social Security Administration, Greg Reed of Bemis, Roach & Reed was retained in June of 2010. Mr. Reed appealed the Social Security Administration’s ruling and on February 21, 2012, the client and Mr. Reed appeared before a Social Security Administration Administrative Law Judge. On March 30, 2012, Mr. Reed and his client received a “Notice of Decision—Fully Favorable” ruling for the time period beginning January 1, 2008 with full benefits.
Of interest, the Administrative Law Judge who heard the appeal found that “the state agency medical consultants’ physical assessments and psychological consultants’ mental assessments are given little weight because the State agency consultants did not adequately consider the combined effect of the claimant’s impairments.”
At Bemis, Roach & Reed, our clients are heard, their complaints are taken seriously and all available resources are brought to bear to ensure a “fully favorable” ruling.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Call Our Social Security Lawyers Today
Bemis, Roach & Reed has over twenty years of experience helping people apply for Social Security Disability benefits. We care about your claim and know that you may be having financial difficulty while waiting for your benefits, which is why we offer everyone a free initial consultation. All attorneys have their fees capped by the SSA, and the only costs you pay to us come from the back benefits you are owed. If you live in Texas call us toll-free at (866) 433-4979 today. Our lawyers are waiting to help you with your Social Security disability benefits claim for rheumatoid arthritis.
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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