Arthritis is a general term that refers to more than 100 types of joint pain and joint diseases. More than 54 million adults in the U.S. alone suffer from at least one of these conditions. In some patients, symptoms might include mild pain or stiffness in their joints. More serious cases often include chronic pain that can limit your ability to perform various types of work or even walk.
If your arthritis affects you to the extent that you’re unable to work, you likely qualify for disability benefits. However, like all disability claims, you’ll need medical evidence to prove the extent of your impairment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines the conditions which qualify for disability benefits in their Blue Book. They classify the different kinds of arthritis as either orthopedic impairments or immune system disorders.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, qualifies as an orthopedic impairment. It occurs when the cushioning cartilage in joints between bones wears away or deteriorates. This can limit flexibility and cause the joints to feel stiff especially after periods of inactivity. It can also result in pain both during and after movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. The immune systems of those suffering from the disease mistakenly attack tissues in their body, causing inflammation. These attacks often start in the smaller joints of your hands and feet then progress to knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders. Eventually, the immune system might turn the attacks to other soft tissues, including the lungs, heart, and kidneys.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Disability for Arthritis
Millions of disability claims are denied every year. With the help of a disability lawyer in Chattanooga, you can greatly increase your chance of getting approved for disability benefits for arthritis. An experienced attorney knows exactly what the SSA looks for on disability applications. They can help you gather the necessary documentation to prove your case.
Medical records are the most important piece of evidence for any disability application. Lab tests, biopsies, and x-rays can all be helpful. However, x-rays fail to show damage to soft tissues or cartilage and may not even show bone deterioration.
MRIs and CAT scans often provide more insight than any of the above tests. But they’re expensive and the SSA rarely agrees to cover their cost. If possible, have your physician order these tests so that you can present the results in your application.
You may also want to see a rheumatologist. Given their specialty, a rheumatologist’s statements carry an immense amount of weight in disability claims for arthritis.
Otherwise, collect statements from doctors who can attest to the limitations you face because of the disease. Similar statements from employers or even friends and family can also be useful. These statements should clearly outline your functional limitations. Proving these limitations is an integral component of a successful claim.
Note any issues you have with fine motor skills. These might include an inability to hold a coffee cup or pen, or an inability to write with one. Similarly, detail any issues you have with repetitive motion. Even if you can perform tasks a single time, doing so for an entire day of work is often impossible with arthritis.
If your arthritis limits your ability to work on a consistent, full-time basis we can help you get the benefits you deserve. Our office will work with you to collect, prepare, and present evidence in the best possible way to win your case. Give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your claim.
Arthritis.org – The Arthritis Foundation’s website. The non-profit and their site are dedicated to helping those who suffer from arthritis. The site includes research, educational tools, and outreach opportunities as well as exercises, nutritional advice, and more.
Arthritis.com – In-depth information about the various kinds of arthritis, including symptoms, treatments, and more.
SSA.gov – The Social Security Administration’s site detailing the requirements for receiving disability for immune system disorders.