Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the world. Often referred to as degenerative joint disease or joint “wear-and-tear”, osteoarthritis causes pain in the joints and muscles and can severely limit mobility.
If your osteoarthritis is too severe to continue living your normal life, 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 osteoarthritis limits you.
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews applications, they need to know all the ways your osteoarthritis affects your life. For your application to be approved, you must show that your disability is severe enough to need their continued monthly financial support.
For example, osteoarthritis is very common in the spinal area. The back pain and limited movement caused by spinal osteoarthritis could be major, from being unable to sit/stand for long periods, to being unable to lift, twist, or walk unassisted. These symptoms would not only prevent a person from working, but would hinder their ability to provide for themselves day-to-day.
If the symptoms of your osteoarthritis 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.
Osteoarthritis is very common and varies greatly from case to case, so it is difficult for the SSA to approve you for benefits without official, specific documentation. Thus, it is important to provide the SSA with as much physical evidence as possible of your osteoarthritis and its symptoms.
To get an idea of what evidence is best, you can first see if your diagnosis aligns with the “Blue Book”, Social Security’s disability guidebook. The Blue Book has two sections (1.02 and 1.04) that directly address osteoarthritis: these state that any major deformities or nerve compression/spinal cord damage shown in physician statements and x-rays may automatically qualify for benefits.
If your osteoarthritis diagnoses is not in the Blue Book, this doesn’t mean you are disqualified from receiving benefits. When applying, provide as many tests as possible that can objectively show the severity of your illness (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, limited mobility tests, etc.) to increase your chances of receiving benefits. Those who provide this evidence 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 (called “credits”) to Social Security in order to qualify. 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.