Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, including within the state of Virginia. In fact, over 25% of Virginia residents have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. While most cases of arthritis are relatively mild, some people are impacted by severe forms that leave them completely debilitated.
Those diagnosed with arthritis face a long road ahead, as this chronic condition tends to worsen over time. All hope is not lost, however. There are numerous resources available to those residing in Virginia.
In addition to services offered by the Arthritis Foundation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides financial assistance to individuals who are deemed permanently disabled due to a severe health condition, such as arthritis.
Rheumatologists in Virginia
Arthritis is a commonly-diagnosed but poorly understood disease. Most people don’t realize that arthritis is not one disease. Rather, it’s a term used to describe over 100 different health conditions related to the joints and musculoskeletal condition. Some forms of arthritis have an auto-immune component such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
While a primary care physician can often manage patients with minor forms of arthritis, more complex cases benefit from the specialized services of a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a medical doctor with an expertise in arthritis and its related conditions.
In addition to properly diagnosing your illness, your rheumatologist will develop a comprehensive treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms.
In addition to assisting you with your health, your rheumatologist will play a pivotal role in helping you obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Disability applications must be accompanied by a substantial amount of medical evidence supporting the claim.
The SSA places a tremendous amount of weight on the opinion of medical experts, such as a rheumatologist. By establishing a partnership with your rheumatologist, you greatly enhance your chances of winning your arthritis claim.
Once you’ve decided to apply for SSDI benefits, you will want to share your intentions with your rheumatologist. Together you may wish to review the SSA’s medical guide, also referred to as the Blue Book.
The Blue Book lists all of the medical conditions that may qualify for disability benefits. Also included in the book are the various tests and symptoms that must accompany those medical conditions.
Both you and your doctor can determine if your arthritis is severe enough to meet a Blue Book listing. If you are not yet working with a rheumatologist, here are three practices in Virginia that you may want to consider:
Bayview Physicians Group
6632 Indian River Road, Suite 104
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
Sentara Rheumatology Specialists
844 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, VA 23502
Rheumatologists of Virginia Physicians, Inc.
Henrico Doctor's Hospital - MOB II
7650 E. Parham Road, Suite 304
Richmond, VA 23294
Arthritis Support Groups in Virginia
Chronic illness has a significant impact on not only one’s physical health, but also on their mental health and well-being. As such, it’s important to be supported as much as possible.
While family and community can offer one form of support, there is another important aspect of support that is sometimes overlooked. Many people living with arthritis have found value in joining a support group.
Arthritis support groups provide many benefits, from helping with coping skills to offering practical medical advice. The majority of support group attendees report improved mood and self-confidence. There are several online support groups for individuals with arthritis.
In addition, the Arthritis Foundation offers many local resources for those living in Virginia. Virginia residents have access to Better Living Toolkits, as well as several other events and educational opportunities.
For more information on your local chapter, contact:
Arthritis Foundation – Richmond, Virginia
7202 Glen Forest Drive, Suite 305
Richmond, VA 23226-3756
Applying for Social Security Disability for Arthritis in Virginia
Applying for SSDI benefits for arthritis begins with determining whether or not you qualify for disability benefits based on a Blue Book listing. The vast majority of arthritis sufferers will not meet a Blue Book listing. Only those with complex medical complications or more advanced diseases will be considered for a disability award.
Several sections of the Blue Book pertain to individuals with arthritis. The musculoskeletal section of the Blue Book, section 1.00 will address osteoarthritis issues. Section 14.09 will address inflammatory arthritis, such as RA.
As with all conditions listed in the Blue Book, the symptoms of your arthritis that are keeping you out of work must last or be expected to continue for at least 12 months. Given the chronic and progressive nature of arthritis, the likelihood of improvement from your current state is often low.
Even if you do not meet a Blue Book listing, you could still qualify for benefits using a medical-vocational allowance. You will need to prove that your arthritis symptoms are so severe that you are unable to work at your most recent job or any other job in which you are qualified for.
If you’ve determined that you are ready to file for SSDI benefits, you may apply online. Alternatively, you can visit one of the several Social Security offices in Virginia.
Listed below are a few to choose from:
Virginia Beach Social Security Office 23452
2875 Sabre St Suite 100
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452
Norfolk Social Security Office 23502
5850 Lake Herbert Drive, First Floor
Norfolk, Virginia 23502
Richmond Social Security Office 23220
1834 West Cary Street
Richmond, Virginia 23220
Can A Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me for My Arthritis in Virginia?
With over 52 million Americans living with arthritis, the SSA is careful to only grant disability benefits to those individuals with the most severe cases.
As such, it can be challenging to prove that you are one of those deserving people. You will need to provide ample medical evidence and ensure that your application is accurate and complete.
One way to enhance your chances of an approval is to work with an experienced Social Security lawyer. Disability attorneys are skilled at helping their clients obtain the benefits that they are seeking.
In addition to helping you complete your application, a qualified lawyer can ensure that all of your medical documentation has been submitted to the SSA. Disability lawyers are not paid unless you win your arthritis case, so there is nothing to lose.