Of the 50 million+ Americans living with Arthritis, close to two million of them live in the state of Georgia. What many people don’t realize is that arthritis is not one disease. Instead, it is a term that refers to over 100 conditions that affect the joints of the body. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Many individuals are unable to work as a result of the severity of their arthritis.
There are many resources available to those living with arthritis in Georgia. One such support comes from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA has established disability programs aimed at offering financial assistance to those who are no longer able to earn an income as a result of their condition.
Rheumatologists in Georgia
Individuals with arthritis are often cared for by a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists are specialized doctors that help diagnose and treat individuals who have arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and other related musculoskeletal conditions. Your rheumatologist will oversee your care over the course of your illness, managing your medications and altering your treatment plan as needed.
In addition to helping you manage the symptoms of your arthritis, your rheumatologist will also be instrumental in helping you obtain disability benefits. Once you’ve decided to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you should discuss your plans with your rheumatologist. Your rheumatologist will be asked to submit medical evidence on your behalf.
It might make sense to review the Blue Book with your rheumatologist. The Blue Book is the SSA’s medical guide that lists all of the qualifying impairments, as well as the symptoms and medical tests that must accompany your application. Together, you can determine whether or not you have enough medical evidence to win your case. Also, your rheumatologist can order any additional tests that might be missing.
If you are not currently working with a rheumatologist, you should consider doing so. There are many qualified rheumatologists in Georgia. Listed below are three highly-regarded practices:
Arthritis & Rheumatology of Georgia, P.C.
980 Johnson Ferry Rd. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30342
Coastal Rheumatology Associates
5400 Waters Avenue
Savannah, GA 31404
Rheumatology Center of Athens
St. Mary’s Medical Group
1622 C Mars Hill Road
Watkinsville, Ga 30677
Arthritis Support Groups
Just because arthritis is a common diagnosis that many people face, does not mean that it’s an easy one. There are varying degrees of arthritis ranging from minor aches and pains to complete debilitation. Sadly, some individuals may even die as a result of their progressive rheumatoid arthritis or other severe related conditions.
The importance of having support is paramount when dealing with any health condition, and arthritis is no different. Studies have shown that when individuals facing a health crisis feel supported, they see more positive outcomes. Support groups offer education, advice, and a place to connect with others who have had similar experiences.
There are many arthritis support groups throughout the state of Georgia. Thanks to the Arthritis Foundation and the Arthritis Support Network (ASN), there are several workshops, live speaking events, and local support groups. In addition, the Arthritis Foundation has recently partnered with the Aquatic Exercises Association (AEA), offering several exercise programs aimed specifically at helping those with arthritis.
For more specific information on local resources available to those living with arthritis in Georgia, you can contact the local Arthritis Foundation office as follows:
Atlanta, Georgia Office
1355 Peachtree St NE, Ste 600
Atlanta, GA 30309-3269
Applying for Social Security Disability for Arthritis in Georgia
For many people, arthritis is not an easy condition to manage. The chronic pain associated with arthritis often requires medication, which can also have significant side effects. For those who are disabled due to arthritis, the financial implications are also stressful. For some, winning a disability award can mean the difference between buying medication or going without helpful treatment.
The requirements related to applying for disability benefits for arthritis will depend on the type of arthritis you have and the severity of your condition. As with all conditions listed in the Blue Book, the SSA requires that your arthritis be permanent and disabling. This means that your doctor will need to confirm that you are currently unable to work as a result of your condition, and that you are not expected to improve in the near future. In fact, your arthritis must be so severe that you are unable to work for at least one year, or longer.
Depending on the type of arthritis you have, you might meet a Blue Book listing. If you have osteoarthritis, you will want to review the musculoskeletal system section, section 1.00, of the Blue Book. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is located in section 14.09, Inflammatory Arthritis, of the Blue Book.
Many disability candidates will not meet a Blue Book listing. However, they still might be too ill to work. If this is the case, you might qualify for disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. The SSA will review your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine if you are capable of performing any work given your limitations.
Individuals who are seeking disability benefits for arthritis can apply online. Also, there are several local Social Security offices in Georgia. The three listed below may be of service to you:
Atlanta Social Security Administration Office 30308
401 W Peachtree St NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
Savannah Social Security Office 31406
430 Mall Blvd
Savannah, GA 31406
Athens Social Security Office 30606
1650 Prince Avenue
Athens, GA 30606
Can a Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me for My Arthritis in Georgia?
Georgia has some of the longest wait times in the U.S. for disability appeals hearings. While there is little that anyone can do to change the wait times, earning an approval during the initial stages of the application process can help avoid the lengthy appeals process. The best way to earn an approval is to have a complete application and sufficient medical documentation.
A qualified disability lawyer can help to ensure that your application is complete and submitted without errors or missing information. Furthermore, Social Security attorneys are skilled at helping their clients obtain the necessary medical tests or documentation they might still be missing. In fact, hiring an experienced lawyer might mean the difference between earning or being denied a disability award.