Rheumatoid Arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes inflammation of the joints and the tissues surrounding them. In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the vital organs in addition to the joints. People who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis are often unable to work due to the symptoms caused by the condition. Pain, fatigue and weakness can make it impossible to perform the daily responsibilities associated with holding down a job. Because of this, many of those who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis must consider applying for disability in order to make ends meet.
If you are unable to work due to Rheumatoid Arthritis and have been wondering whether or not you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information can help you understand how your condition may qualify you for assistance and what you can expect when applying for disability benefits.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Condition and Symptoms
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects the joints of the body. In some cases it may also impact the vital organs as well. While the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown, we do know that Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur at any age and that it is more common in women than it is in men.
When the body's immune system is functioning properly, it fights off foreign substances to fend off the viruses and bacteria that can cause a person to become ill. However, when a person is suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis the immune system begins attacking healthy tissue rather than foreign substances, turning on the joints of the body. When a person suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis the joints and the tissues surrounding the joints begin to become inflamed. Usually this happens on both sides of the body with wrists, ankles, fingers, feet and knees being most commonly infected.
Rheumatoid Arthritis progresses gradually. Initially a person may experience fatigue, a loss of appetite, nausea in the morning, widespread muscle pain and weakness. As the condition progresses, joint pain will become severe. If the joint is not used it may become tender and stiff with a warmness around it. Fluid may also build up, causing the joint to swell.
The severity of the condition can vary from one person to the next, but many of the people who suffer from the condition are unable to work because of the symptoms associated with it. For those individuals who are unable to work due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Social Security Disability benefits may be the only way to make ends meet financially.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Rheumatoid Arthritis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize Rheumatoid Arthritis as being a qualifying condition to receive Social Security Disability benefits. In order to qualify, you will need a clinical diagnosis documenting the fact that you suffer from the condition. This diagnosis in and of itself, however, is not enough to qualify you for disability benefits.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on a claim of Rheumatoid Arthritis you will need to prove that the condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. As a general rule, in order to qualify for disability benefits you will need to be able to prove that the Rheumatoid Arthritis affects one of your major peripheral weight-bearing joints (such as the ankle, hip or knee) and that it results in limitations to your mobility or that your shoulder, elbow or wrist are unable to perform movements well enough to allow you to perform work activity. In order to prove this you will need sufficient medical documentation from a physician, including physical exam records and x-ray images. Once you receive a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis you will be able to apply for disability benefits.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Social Security Disability Case
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, the Social Security examiner will take a look at the medical records that you provided with your Social Security Disability application as well as any other medical records that have been collected. They will also look at your work history and may request that you go in for a consultative exam.
After the Social Security office has all of the information needed to process your claim they will either approve or deny your application for disability benefits. As a general rule, it will usually take 90 to 120 days for the SSA to make a decision on your Social Security Disability claim.
If there is clear evidence that you cannot work due to your condition you may be approved for Social Security Disability benefits at the initial application stage, however, it is important to remember that only 30 to 35 percent of applicants actually receive an approval at this level. Most will have to go on to file an appeal.
If you are denied disability benefits you need to file an appeal within 60 days of the decision to continue your claim for disability benefits. You may wish to retain the services of a Social Security Disability attorney to represent you during the appeal process to increase your chances of making a successful disability claim.