Can I Work With Osteoarthritis?

Social Security Disability for Osteoarthritis

If your osteoarthritis results in moderate to severe symptoms that leave you unable to work, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which requires you work to earn sufficient credits and pay in adequate taxes to the SSA which matches the equivalent of five of the last 10 years of full-time work. However, exceptions can be made in regards to age when it comes to the number of credits earned.

People of any age can suffer from osteoarthritis, but as one ages the condition will likely worsen and become debilitating. One of many kinds of arthritis, osteoarthritis results in the gradual loss of cartilage, which is a tissue providing cushioning between the areas of the bones that form joints. Cartilage plays a significant role in functioning, so cartilage loss causes serious problems including cysts and bone spurs. When cartilage loss gets severe your bones begin rubbing against one another which can result in intense pain. It can cause you to suffer severe mobility issues that prohibit you from functioning normally.

Can I work with Osteoarthritis?

Impacting Your Ability to Work

Severe joint pain and limited mobility can have a serious impact on your ability to perform your regular daily tasks, let alone work. If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you most likely suffer from enlarged joints, stiffness in your joints, and severe pain. While symptoms may start out mild, they can worsen until they become so severe that you can’t participate in activities you enjoy or do your daily chores. Some people have such severe symptoms they can’t brush their hair or button their clothes.

During the day, the stiffness in your joints may lessen, but as time passes the cartilage between the joint will thin and become unstable. Osteoarthritis may start in one joint, but it usually spreads to other joints over time. Because of the stiffness and pain, your mobility may be impacted so much that you must use a walker or crutches to help you get around. You may find yourself unable to grasp small items or bend, squat, or crouch.

Limitations for Specific Jobs

Joint pain can leave in you a bad situation, so you may find yourself unable to remain in one position for a long time without the need to reposition. Because of the cartilage damage, you probably can’t lift or carry heavy items, so you can’t work as a delivery driver or mail carrier. Because your joints in your hands and fingers are impacted, you may find yourself unable to open lids, do fingering tasks, or grasp onto small items so you can’t perform data entry, product inspection, maintenance tasks, or work in a cafeteria or restaurant.

Because of your joint pain in your hips, feet, knees, and ankles, you probably can’t work in a warehouse because of your inability to stand long periods and walk long distances so you can’t work in a warehouse or a manufacturing facility. Joint pain in your hips and knees may make sitting long periods impossible, so you cannot perform sedentary work. The pain can make jobs such as truck driving impossible as well.

Applying for Benefits

If you suffer from osteoarthritis and you have decided to apply for disability benefits, there are several approaches you can take to get started. You can start the process online, calling toll-free 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting your nearest SSA office. Being represented by an advocate or a disability attorney can significantly increase your odds of having your claim approved. An attorney knows how to properly complete the claim form and will gather up all the necessary documentation to ensure your claim is adequately supported.

The disability determination process is very complex and detailed. Most claims are denied on first consideration, but that decision can be appealed. Your claim be denied twice, and appeals can be filed both times. The final step would be to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The key to proving your claim is providing documentation, such as medical records, physician notes, proof of restrictions and limitations, and any treatment records. The average claim takes five months to process.