Arthritis is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a disability that qualifies those with sever impairments to receive disability benefits. There are several important criteria that a claimant must meet to have their claim for disability benefits approved.
At Sackett Law, we take pride in the personal attention we pay to every client’s disability claim and in the total commitment our staff has to getting every disability claim approved. We also work hard on appeals of inappropriate denials of benefits, and we counsel anyone who contacts us about their eligibility to receive disability benefits. If you have any questions or issues relating to disability benefits, please contact us at Sackett Law, Call 1-800-913-3000.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability benefits can be a bit confusing at first because there are two very different programs that pay benefits to disabled people.
- 1). The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) program is only open to long-time workers and former workers who paid into the Social Security Disability pot through weekly payroll contributions or self-employment taxes. Even workers who paid in may not be eligible for SSD benefits if they have not worked long enough or their working years are too far in the past.
- 2). The Supplement Security Income (SSI) program also pays disability benefits, but only to people with low incomes and very limited financial resources. In this respect, the SSI program differs from the SSD program by requiring “means testing” of SSI claimants to determine eligibility.
The SSD program and the SSI program pay different benefits, calculate benefits differently, and count income differently, they do use the same definition of what qualifies as a disability.
What Qualifies as a Disability?
The Social Security Administration defines disability in the same way for all disability benefit programs. In the rules and regulations of the government, a disability is
“a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) and prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities.”
Whatever the nature of the impairment, it must be severe enough to keep the claimant from working full-time in any available gainful activity. For claimants aged 50 or older, the measure is whether their impairment is severe enough to keep them from working in the occupation they’ve engaged in for the previous 15 years.
Overview of Arthritis as a Disability
Arthritis is a “listed” disability in the manual titled “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security,” but everyone just calls it “the blue book.” The blue book contains the listings of many illnesses, diseases, injuries, and impairments that will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if the case fits the specific criteria included in the listing.
(We will go over the blue book’s listing for arthritis, but keep in mind that even if you don’t match the criteria exactly, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you have more than one impairment. If none of someone’s multiple impairments qualifies by itself for benefits, the entire constellation of impairments might combine to qualify them for benefits.)
The blue book’s listing for arthritis as a disability is found in section 14.00 Immune System Disorders.
Under the blue book criteria, a person qualifies for disability benefits if their arthritis includes the following features:
- 1). Persistent inflammation or deformity of:
- A). One or more peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to move effectively
- B). One or more major peripheral joints in an upper extremity resulting in the inability to preform fine movements
- 2). Inflammation or deformity of one or more major peripheral joints with:
- A). Involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved in moderate level of severity
- B). At least two of the constitutional symptoms (fever, malaise, involuntary weight loss, severe fever)
- 3). Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies
- 4). Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis with at least two of the constitutional symptoms (malaise, involuntary weight loss, severe fatigue, fever) and one of the following:
- A). Limitation of daily living activities.
- B). Limitation in maintaining social functions.
- C). Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner.
Confusing? Very few people who don’t work with these concepts on a regular basis can accurately comprehend the complexities of all of these features as they apply to one individual’s case. That’s why anyone who thinks they might qualify should consult with both medical professionals and expert disability lawyers.
Only trained professionals can adequately interpret the depth and intensity of your pain, inflammation, limited range of motion, or other symptoms to advise you about your eligibility for disability benefits.
Sackett Law Can Help You File for Disability Benefits or Appeal a Denial
At Sackett Law, all we do is practice disability law. We will do all the legwork and collect any medical records, test results, and scans related to your disability and organize it to your best advantage when we file your disability claim with you. We will continue to represent you throughout the assessment process and any reconsideration or hearing before an administrative judge. We also do appeals for people whose claims were denied.