With over 1.5 million New Jersey residents diagnosed with some form of arthritis, it’s no surprise that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the state.
Although the risk of arthritis tends to increase with age, more and more individuals are facing arthritis-related symptoms at a younger age.
The health and financial implications that come along with an early arthritis diagnosis can be scary. The good news is that there are a number of helpful resources for individuals living with arthritis in New Jersey.
In addition to several local resources, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has established disability programs aimed at offering financial assistance to those who are no longer able to work as a result of severe arthritis.
Rheumatologists in New Jersey
Arthritis is a widespread health condition, and yet very little is understood about the illness from the general public.
In fact, did you know that arthritis is not a disease in and of itself? Instead, the term arthritis is used to encompass over 100 different health conditions ranging from gout to fibromyalgia to lupus.
Because each case of arthritis is so unique, the health care plan should also be specialized. While a primary care doctor can often manage the symptoms of a minor case of arthritis, it is best to seek the care of a rheumatologist for more advanced cases. Rheumatologists are medical experts who are specially trained to diagnose and treat arthritic diseases.
Establishing a solid working relationship with your rheumatologist will not only benefit your health but will likely prove extremely helpful in winning your Social Security disability claim. The SSA places an enormous amount of weight on the information and opinion provided by medical experts.
Therefore, the medical documentation provided by your rheumatologist will be carefully considered by the SSA when deciding your claim.
Once you have decided that you are going to apply for disability benefits for your arthritis, you may want to discuss your plans with your rheumatologist. Together, you might want to review the Blue Book.
The Blue Book, sometimes referred to as the List of Impairments, is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine which conditions are severe enough to warrant a disability award. The Blue Book lists the medical tests and symptoms required to be considered disabled.
If you are not yet an established patient of a rheumatologist, here are three New Jersey practices that you may want to consider:
Rheumatology Center of New Jersey
281 Witherspoon Street, Suite 120
Princeton, NJ 08540
Rheumatology Associates of North Jersey
1415 Queen Anne Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Rheumatology Center of Princeton
123 Franklin Corner Rd. Suite 106
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Arthritis Support Groups in New Jersey
For those facing long-term, chronic health conditions, the outlook can be uncertain. Navigating the complex health care system can feel challenging and impersonal. Given the time constraints, health care providers can only provide so much care to an individual.
As such, it makes sense for health care consumers to find support and education outside of their doctor’s office. One such way of doing so is by joining an arthritis support group.
Science has concluded that peer-based support from people living with similar health conditions can improve the quality of life for those suffering from arthritis. By joining an arthritis support group, individuals learn helpful information from one another, such as coping techniques.
By joining together with people who “get it,” the odds of depression or anxiety significantly decline. Arthritis support groups offer hope to newly diagnosed patients.
The Arthritis Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to bringing awareness, funding, and education to individuals impacted by arthritis. Through the establishment of local offices, the Arthritis Foundation is able to help at a very personalized level.
If you are interested in joining an arthritis support group or in getting involved at a local level, contact the Arthritis Foundation’s New Jersey office:
Arthritis Foundation – New Jersey
555 US Highway 1 S, Ste 320
Iselin, NJ 08830-3100
Applying for Social Security Disability for Arthritis in New Jersey
The application requirements for obtaining Social Security disability benefits for arthritis depends on the specifics of your disease.
For example, the Blue Book requirements for osteoarthritis are very different from the requirements for rheumatoid arthritis. You will want to consult the Blue Book to determine if you qualify for disability using a Blue Book listing.
Even if you review the Blue Book and find that you do not meet a listing, all hope is not lost. Many disability candidates do not meet a listing and yet are clearly still too sick to work. In this instance, you might qualify for a medical-vocational allowance.
A medical-vocational allowance is granted for individuals who are unable to work at their current job and cannot perform any past relevant work due to their condition.
To be considered for a medical vocational allowance, the SSA will require a residual functional capacity (RFC) exam. While the SSA will complete this for you, you may want to proactively enlist the help of your rheumatologist to perform this evaluation on your behalf.
SSDI benefits are reserved for those who are permanently disabled. As such, the symptoms from your arthritis must last, or be expected to continue, for at least one year.
If this is the case for you and you are ready to apply for SSDI benefits, you can do so online or by visiting any of the local Social Security offices in New Jersey.
Listed below are three of them:
Jersey City Social Security Office 07305
325 West Side Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey 07305
Newark Social Security Office 07103
274 Springfield Ave
Newark, New Jersey 07103
Paterson Social Security Office 07505
200 Federal Plaza First Floor
Paterson, New Jersey 07505
Can A Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me for My Arthritis in New Jersey?
As with many government programs, the backlog of Social Security disability cases is quite long.
In fact, New Jersey has some of the most extended wait times in the nation when it comes to disability appeals hearings. Some applicants have waited well over three years for a decision on their disability claim.
One of the best ways to avoid the extended wait times for a hearing is to win your disability claim early on in the process, thus avoiding the need for a hearing. By hiring a disability lawyer, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that other applicants are facing.
A disability lawyer will ensure that your application is complete, that you have met all of the important deadlines, and that you are in the best possible position to win your Social Security disability claim for arthritis.