How Severe Does My Ankylosing Spondylitis Have To Be To Get Disability Benefits?

Do you struggle with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)? Is your condition so severe that it interferes with your ability to work?

You may be eligible to receive disability benefits through the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) if so. Although this overview provides valuable information on the subject, you should strongly consider reviewing your case with an attorney for more guidance.

Blue Book Listing for Ankylosing Spondylitis Disorder

The SSA's Blue Book, a resource offering information about the conditions that might qualify someone for SSD, provides a listing for ankylosing spondylitis under Section 14.09, Inflammatory Arthritis. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine and can also involve other joints and organs.

The symptoms of AS can vary from person to person, but commonly include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back, buttocks, and hips, which is often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity
  • Restricted movement in the spine, leading to difficulty bending or turning the back
  • Pain and stiffness in other joints, such as the shoulders, knees, or ankles
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Inflammation and pain in the eyes, known as uveitis, which can cause blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and eye pain
  • Difficulty breathing caused by inflammation of the chest wall and/or the small joints between the ribs and the spine

The symptoms of AS can vary in severity and can develop gradually over time. In some cases, the condition may progress to cause fusion of the spine. This can result in a fixed, stooped posture and limited mobility.

AS symptoms can significantly impact daily life. They may cause difficulties with work, household tasks, and leisure activities. The pain and stiffness can make it difficult to perform tasks that involve bending, twisting, or lifting, and can also interfere with sitting or standing for extended periods. The fatigue and loss of energy AS causes can also make it challenging to keep up with daily responsibilities.

In addition to physical symptoms, AS can also have psychological effects, such as anxiety, depression, and social isolation, which can further impact daily life.

Proving Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Is Severe Enough for SSD

To meet the requirements of the Blue Book listing for ankylosing spondylitis, an individual must have ankylosing spondylitis with one of the following:

  • Ankylosis (fixation) of the spine resulting in stiffness and immobility in the thoracic or lumbar spine, with the inability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) independently (14.09A);
  • Ankylosis (fixation) of the spine and peripheral joints resulting in stiffness and immobility in two or more extremities, with the inability to perform ADLs independently (14.09B);
  • Ankylosis (fixation) of the spine or a peripheral joint in combination with other manifestations of the disorder, such as inflammation and pain, resulting in a marked limitation in physical functioning (14.09C); or
  • Other significant signs or laboratory findings, such as positive HLA-B27 antigen, uveitis, or a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) level, which result in a marked limitation in physical functioning (14.09D).

In addition to meeting these requirements of this listing, an individual must also have medical documentation that highlights the severity of their ankylosing spondylitis as well as its effect on their ability to perform work-related activities that is submitted to the SSA alongside their application for disability benefits. They may need to provide a doctor’s note or similar evidence to support their claim.

Applying for Disability Benefits

For reasons such as technical issues with applications, lack of necessary medical evidence, and more, the SSA denies approximately two-thirds of all initial SSD applications. With this in mind, it is wise to consider hiring an attorney to assist you when applying for disability benefits. A lawyer might help you gather the evidence you need to support your claim. They could also assist with an appeal if necessary.

Get Help With Your Disability Claim

If your ankylosing spondylitis negatively impacts your ability to provide for yourself, you may be eligible to receive financial support in the form of disability benefits. An attorney with experience handling ankylosing spondylitis cases could help you pursue said benefits if you qualify for them. Learn more by completing the Free Case Evaluation on this page to schedule a free consultation today.