How to Qualify
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability with arthritis, you must meet the basic disability requirements set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
In order to receive disability benefits, you must have a condition which prevents you from performing any available work. Additionally, the condition must be expected to last at least one year from the time of onset.
How the SSA Determines Disability with Arthritis
In the case of arthritis, you must receive medical treatment for at least three months before the SSA will make a determination regarding the extent and severity of your condition and whether or not it qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits.
Steps to Take In Order to Qualify
To determine whether a person qualifies for Social Security Disability because of arthritis, the SSA uses the following steps:
The SSA first determines whether you are currently working. If you are gainfully employed (in 2019, gainfully employed is defined as earning $1,220 per month), you will be disqualified for Social Security Disability based on your demonstrated ability to perform substantial gainful activity.
The SSA determines whether your arthritis is severe enough to hinder you from performing physical activities commonly required for working. These activities may include such things as:
- sitting or standing
- kneeling or walking
- lifting and use of fine motor skills
Depending on which activities your arthritis hinders you from performing, you may be deemed capable of heavy, medium, light, or sedentary work. In some cases, those who are approaching retirement age may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits even if they are deemed capable of sedentary work if they lack the qualifications listed in the Blue Book to perform the sedentary work which is available.
The SSA determines if your arthritis meets their medical criteria. To meet the disability criteria to qualify for benefits, an arthritic person must have swelling and pain, and his or her joint movement must be limited or painful.
If a person is not deemed medically qualified for Social Security disability based on observable symptoms, the SSA will consider whether you can reasonably be expected to perform any type of work which you have done in the past.
If the SSA determines that you are unable to perform any work which you have performed previously, they will consider your age, your level of education, your previous experience, and your overall mental and physical health to determine whether you could reasonably be trained to do any other kind of available work. If, in their estimation, you can be trained to do some form of work, you will be denied Social Security Disability benefits.
The Next Steps to Take
Statistically, your best chance of having a Social Security Disability case approved because of arthritis comes during your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
During this hearing, you will be allowed to have representation, and will also be allowed to make your case in person regarding why your arthritic condition keeps you from being able to work. You will also be allowed to bring witnesses who can testify on your behalf regarding the effects your condition has had on your ability to work.
Consult with a Social Security Attorney
If the SSA determines that your arthritis precludes you from performing any kind of available work, they will approve your claim and you will begin receiving social Security Disability benefits. It is worth noting that most initial claims are denied.
If your claim is denied, you should consider consulting a Social Security Disability attorney (if you’re not already working with one) regarding the best way to go about the appeals process.
Many Social Security Disability claims which are initially denied are later approved in the appeals process. While you are allowed to represent yourself at all stages of the process, you are much more likely to win your case if you are represented by an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.