What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a common joint disorder that causes swelling and pain in one or more joints throughout the body. There are several forms of arthritis and conditions that are related to arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and lupus. The condition can affect weight bearing joints such as knees, hips, and vertebrae; it can also affect areas such as the hands, feet, wrists, and ankles.
While arthritis is a common condition that can range significantly in symptoms, severe cases may limit your ability to function to the point where you will be eligible for Social Security Disability.
How Does Social Security View Arthritis?
When Social Security looks at the severity of your condition to determine if you are medically eligible for the benefit or not, they look at two main criteria. The two main questions Social Security asks are whether your condition meets or equals a listing, or whether your condition affects your ability to do certain tasks so much that you can no longer perform any kind of work competitively.
Listings:Listings are 14 different types of conditions, that if you meet the exact criteria Social Security has set up, you will be considered medically eligible for Disability.
Because arthritis is extremely common, Social Security has allowed for arthritis to be considered under the Social Security listings. Primarily Social Security will look at your arthritis under the listing for back conditions and the listing for joint conditions.
Back Condition Listing (1.04):
For your arthritis to meet the listing under the back condition listing, you and your attorney must prove that you have one of the three symptoms listed below.
- Compression of the nerve root in the spine that creates a limitation in the range of motion of your spine
- Narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back that creates a significant difficulty in walking
- Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane surrounding the nerves in your spine that causes a necessity to change positions frequently
Joint Condition Listing (1.02):
For your arthritis to meet a listing under a joint condition, there must be acceptable medical evidence (MRI, Ultrasound, X-Ray, CT Scan) that shows joint space narrowing, fusion of the joint, or bones being destroyed by constant friction. If the joint that is affected is a weight bearing joint (knee, ankle, or hip), you must only have a major dysfunction in one joint, as long as it significantly interferes with the ability to walk. If the joint is not weight bearing (wrist, elbow, shoulder, or hand) the condition must significantly affect the use of both arms.
If you do not meet the listing for a condition, or if a specific listing does not exist for your condition, you can still win your case if you show that you are unable to do any sort of competitive work due to your condition.
Many people are discouraged when they hear that their condition may not exactly meet a listing, and they think that their case has no shot, but this is not the case. Most people who are awarded benefits because of arthritis win by proving that their arthritis affects their ability to function on a day-to-day basis.
To prove your case based on your functional ability you have to show that your specific arthritis keeps you from being able to perform any type of work on a full-time competitive basis. The best way to do this is by showing how your arthritis affects your ability to stand for long periods of time, sit for long periods of time, walk long distances, bend, or lift heavy objects.
The best way to show how your arthritis limits your ability to do these types of activities is by having your attorney and your doctor work together to explain the effect on your body. We create specialized medical assessment forms for your doctors to fill out and work directly with your doctors to explain how your condition affects you to the judge.
Call our office today and see if you qualify:
While we provide the information above about Social Security Disability benefits so that you will better understand if you are eligible, the best way to check your eligibility is by calling our office and speaking to one of our client service representatives today. You may reach our office toll free at 1-800-488-4775.