I Have Arthritis and Cannot Work, What Can I Do?

Submitted by pec on

Once arthritis has become a disabling condition, it can become so severe that continuing to work may become impossible. How can you survive and pay bills when you can no longer work? You may be able to obtain disability benefits payments from the federal government’s Social Security Administration if your arthritis is severe enough to prevent you returning to work for at least the next 12 months. If you have worked for long enough already, you may obtain disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pathway.

Consider Disability Benefits

To be able to obtain disability benefits through the SSDI program you must be able to demonstrate that:

  • you cannot work for a minimum of 12 months since the onset of the disability;
  • your arthritis symptoms meet the criteria outlined in the SSA’s Blue Book section 14.09;
  • your medical history and treatment is documented sufficiently to support your claim for benefits;
  • you have accumulated enough work credits from paying social security taxes while employed.

Other Financial Programs That Can Help

You can still apply for disability benefits if you can’t work but have insufficient work credits. The SSA may offer you benefits payments through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This is available if you meet the criteria for benefits on medical grounds but have minimal income and assets. SSI is available if your household income and assets are less than the amounts set by the SSA as thresholds. Household income includes any income earned or assets held by your spouse or partner.

If you can’t work and have dependent children and are waiting for a decision on disability benefits by the SSA, you may be able to obtain help from your state government through the TANF program. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a federal program that provides funds to states to help them support temporary assistance to needy families within their state. TANF was really designed to help state governments assist families with children get back into financial self-sufficiency, which means getting back into work, so this might not be possible if your arthritis is so severe and treatment options unlikely to allow you to return to work soon.

Your health insurance policy, if you have one which is independent of your employer, may provide temporary payments. According to the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are not permitted to deny payments for arthritis sufferers. Payments may be up to 80% of coverage for arthritis treatment costs including medications.

Can I work With Arthritis

Free Services

If all else fails, or you have to wait for months for a disability benefits payment to start or have to appeal a decision, you may be able to find that there are organizations in your state or locality that can provide financial assistance. Some examples include:

  • Meals on Wheels – may help with providing meals to those who are not mobile and need financial assistance for food;
  • Needy Meds that can help source financial or medical assistance from other organizations;
  • Good Days, a national healthcare nonprofit may help with some medical costs;
  • Healthwell Foundation;
  • Rx Outreach;
  • Caring Voices Coalition;
  • CreakyJoints;
  • Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation.

Get Help With Your SSD Claim

Applications to the SSA for disability benefits for arthritis can be difficult. In many instances, the SSA initially denies an application for benefits and an appeal is required. You may find that a disability attorney can help you at any stage of an application for benefits and may be needed especially if you appeal a denied SSDI benefits decision.

Fill out the Free Case Evaluation to get connected with an independent social security disability attorney who subscribes to the website and may be able to help with your case.