The Social Security Application Process for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the commonest form of arthritis which features the breakdown of joint cartilage, which leads to debilitating pain, stiffness, and disability. If your mobility is reduced so much that you are unable to go to work, you may qualify for disability benefits which are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Initial Application for Disability Benefits for Osteoarthritis

There are two routes for applying for disability benefits if you have osteoarthritis. Firstly, you may be able to use accrued work credits earned when you were paying Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Secondly, you may be eligible to apply for the means tested Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which is financed by the taxpayer. In both situations to be eligible your disability caused by osteoarthritis must match certain medical requirements decided by the SSA.

Before you can file an application for SSD benefits for osteoarthritis because it is not listed specifically in the SSA’s Blue Book listing, you may have to look at other sections such as Section 100 which considers mobility limitations caused by a disability. Your claim will need to be supported by your medical records including treatment for osteoarthritis and the disease must have been present and restricting your ability to work for at least 12 months. Because osteoarthritis is not specifically listed in the Blue Book, it is vital that your physician documents your quality of life and ability to care for yourself when supporting your application for disability benefits. Things like your need for an assistive device to help your mobility and whether you need help with everyday activities.

The SSA may take more than 120 days to arrive at a decision concerning your eligibility for disability payments. Even after that long period just 30% of applications are typically approved. The denial is usually based on lack of evidence proving that you are no longer mobile enough to work with osteoarthritis. To back up your claim you can ask for a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment to be completed by your physician.

If you are denied benefits, you can appeal or file a request for reconsideration.

Request for Reconsideration for Disability Caused by Osteoarthritis

On receipt of a denial letter from the SSA you will be allocated a certain amount of time to file a request for reconsideration. There is a high chance that your claim will be denied yet again so you will now have to file a request a hearing which will be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ). At this stage you have a far higher chance of getting approval for disability benefits as the judge will seek confirmation of the disability from a specialist in osteoarthritis who states that you are no longer able to work. You are typically given sixty days to request a hearing from your reconsideration stage denial. The ALJ can take several years to reach a final decision but typically about 63% of cases which reach this stage are approved.

If your claim for disability benefits has still not been successful you may consider turning to the Appeals Council. You are given 60 days following the ALJ decision to request a review at the Appeal’s Council. All the Appeal’s Council does is determine if the ALJ has made an error when finalizing its decision. If you don’t want to accept the Appeal’s Council decision your last chance is the Federal District Court where many claims are won.

The Social Security Application Process for Osteoarthritis

Help with the Disability Application Process for Your Osteoarthritis

Working with a disability lawyer often has a great impact on the outcome of your claim for disability benefits and there is proof that your claim has a far higher chance of being approved.

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