If you suffer from arthritis, you are not alone. Millions of Americans are currently affected by over 100 different forms of arthritis that cause varying degrees of pain, discomfort, and limitations.
If your arthritis prevents you from working and leading your normal life, you are not alone either — in fact, you may be one of the many that qualifies for Social Security disability benefits, created to help people just like you. Continue below to learn how to begin the process of applying.
Step One: Determine how much your arthritis limits you.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is in charge of reviewing all applications for disability insurance. For your application to be approved by the SSA, you must prove that your disability is severe enough to need their monthly support. This begins by determining all the ways your arthritis affects your life.
While there are some differences between diagnoses, the most common symptom of all forms of arthritis is joint pain. For example, for someone with rheumatoid arthritis, performing small daily tasks like opening jars and doors may be impossible. It may also prevent a person from performing larger tasks such as typing at a computer, sitting for extended periods at a desk, walking long distances, or lifting, making it difficult to work a steady job.
If the symptoms of your arthritis make working life and daily life painful, Social Security is more likely to approve you for benefits.
Step Two: Get test results confirming the severity of your condition.
Since arthritis is varied greatly in diagnosis and severity, it is difficult for the SSA to approve you for benefits without official, specific documentation. It is important to provide the SSA with as much physical evidence as possible when applying.
First, you can see if your diagnosis aligns with the “Blue Book”, Social Security’s disability guidebook. For example, if you have psoriatic arthritis, the Blue Book states that you can get approval if you provide evidence of swelling or deformity of any joints that keep you from walking or performing daily activities.
For arthritis diagnoses not in the Blue Book, the best types of evidence you can provide are x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or limited mobility tests — anything that can objectively show the severity of your illness. Those who provide evidence from these medical tests are far more likely to be approved for benefits than those who only have testimonial evidence.
Step Three: Gather tax info, work history, and prepare to fill out the application.
Before applying for benefits, you should prepare as much information about your life and history as possible: Social Security number, addresses, personal references, medical and work documents, even tax info and work history.
Tax information allows the SSA to see how much money you have contributed to Social Security in your years of work. Depending on your age, you must have contributed a certain amount of money to Social Security in order to qualify for benefits. Work history is also provided to show the SSA what types of work you have experience in, when/if you stopped working, and whether or not your illness prevents you from working similar jobs.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
Applying for disability benefits can be tedious and occasionally overwhelming. If you feel that you may qualify for disability benefits, it is wise to consult with a disability advocate or attorney during the process. They are an irreplaceable resource when filing out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary. It is also required by law that disability attorneys do not receive payment unless you win your case.
To give yourself the best chance at receiving the assistance you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today.