Osteoarthritis is a very painful and debilitating arthritic condition. People who suffer from osteoarthritis often find it difficult or impossible to perform work-related activities. Because of this they are forced to stop working and face serious financial difficulties. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may be possible for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. Understanding how the Social Security Administration (SSA) views osteoarthritis and what you should expect during the Social Security Disability application process can help make obtaining benefits easier.
Osteoarthritis - Condition and Symptoms
It has been estimated that more than 20 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis and that at least 25-percent of annual visits to general physicians are due to symptoms of osteoarthritis. Because of this the SSA sees a high volume of disability claims based on the disability of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects the joints of the body. It is a chronic condition and those who suffer from it face ongoing deterioration of the cartilage in their joints, which can result in decreased range of motion and intense pain. Some osteoarthritis patients will also experience muscle spasms and a cracking of the joints, known as crepitus. The areas of the body most commonly affected by osteoarthritis include the hands, feet, spine, knees and hips.
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may make it easier to deal with the symptoms caused by the condition. In some cases these medications may also reduce further damage that may occur to the joints. In the most severe cases, joint replacement surgery may actually be necessary to restore an osteoarthritis patient's mobility.
There are really no laboratory tests that can conclusively diagnose osteoarthritis. Instead, your doctor will rely on an evaluation of your symptoms, a psychical exam and x-ray imaging. Once a diagnosis has been made you may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits, especially if the condition is severe enough to interfere with your ability to work.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is included in Sections 1.03 and 1.04 of the Listing of Impairments that the SSA uses to approve Social Security Disability claims. Unfortunately, a diagnosis in and of itself is not always enough to have your claim for disability benefits approved.
In addition to having an osteoarthritis diagnosis you will need x-ray evidence proving that you have a major malformation of the joint that is being affected by the condition. If you have had an unsuccessful reconstructive joint surgery due to osteoarthritis, it will be much easier for you to qualify for disability benefits and you may even have your claim approved during the initial stage of the application process.
Even if you have not had unsuccessful joint replacement surgery, you may still be able to qualify for benefits based on your osteoarthritis claim. In order to qualify you will need sufficient proof that your disability is preventing you from performing work activities. Thus, you will want to make sure that you discuss any and all limitations with your doctor during your routine office visits. By recording the work-related issues in your medical records you will be making it easier for the SSA to approve your claim for Social Security Disability benefits.
Osteoarthritis and Your Social Security Disability Case
If you are living with severe osteoarthritis and it has prevented you from being able to work you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. In order to do this you will need to either fill out an application online or over the phone. You can also visit your local Social Security field office to apply, but an appointment may be necessary.
As a general rule it takes between 90 to 120 days, on average, for the SSA to process a Social Security Disability claim at the initial level. Of all the Social applications received, only 30 percent are actually approved at this stage of the process. However, if you have severe osteoarthritis and have had unsuccessful surgery, your chances of being approved at this stage may be much greater than the overall 30 percent Social Security Disability approval rate. If your claim is denied, you should appeal the decision within 60 days, especially if your condition is severe enough that you are unable to work because of it.
Fortunately osteoarthritis is not as hard to prove as some other bone and joint conditions. Proper medical records and sufficient x-ray images should make it easier for you to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Hiring a disability attorney to represent you throughout the application process can increase your chance of winning your Social Security Disability claim.