Applying for Disability Benefits with Arthritis Over 50

If you have arthritis, you likely know how the pain and symptoms you experience can become so bad that you feel unable to perform routine tasks and participate in daily activities. As such, your arthritis can get so bad that it reaches the point at which you find yourself unable to work anymore.

If you have already been working for many years, you might be able to obtain disability benefits. If your arthritis symptoms do not match the strict requirements outlined in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book—the manual the SSA uses to grant benefits—you can still qualify for disability benefits with arthritis. This is because, in addition to the Blue Book, the SSA uses what are called “Grid Rules” to determine whether you are eligible to receive disability benefits. Grid rules take several factors into consideration, including your age. And, if you are over 50, it generally means that you have a better chance of obtaining benefits than if you are younger.

Grid Rules and Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Arthritis Over 50

The grid rules are a way that the SSA can determine whether a combination of factors allows you to qualify for disability benefits. The most common factors assessed under the grid rules are:

  • education level;
  • existing skills;
  • the amount of physical work you can do (light vs. heavy);
  • whether those skills are transferrable to a new occupation;
  • your age.

Usually, the older you are, the more lenient the rules become when assessing eligibility for arthritis and disability benefits. This is because the SSA understands that, given the fact that your capability of learning new skills is likely to be less when you’re older compared to when you’re younger, whatever skills you may have acquired prior to the development of your disability will become less transferrable with age. Additionally, your chances of being employed at an older age become lower.

Medical Documents for Arthritis

Medical Requirements for Arthritis and Disability Benefits

When you apply for disability benefits, your symptoms are assessed initially against the most relevant criteria in the SSA’s Blue Book. For arthritis, this means an assessment of symptoms as they match criteria in the Blue Book’s listing: 14.00 (immune systems).

How to Apply For Disability Benefits With Arthritis Over 50

The most common route for obtaining disability benefits is through SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). SSDI is a disability benefits program that is based on the quantity of Social Security insurance contributions you have paid throughout your professional career as part of your payroll deductions.

For every year you have worked, you can accumulate 4 work credits. For most disability benefit applications, you need a minimum number of work credits. If you are over 50, you are more likely to have fulfilled the work credit requirement because your work history is longer. A 50-year-old only needs to have worked for a minimum of 7 years in order to have accumulated the 28 work credits needed at that age.

In addition to meeting the work credit requirement, you also need to prove that you are unable to work or obtain gainful employment for at least the next 12 months because of your arthritis.

Medical evidence that helps to support your application by best matching the criteria in the Blue Book listing also must be submitted. If your medical evidence does not meet the criteria of the Blue Book listing, then you may be able to obtain a Medical Vocational Allowance through the grid rules. A Residual Functional Capacity assessment can also help to support your claim that you are unable to work or cannot do alternative work to what you were doing for work before the onset of your arthritis.

Get Help With Your Arthritis Disability Benefits Claim

Arthritis is a condition that, when severe, can prevent you from earning a living. Applying for disability benefits with arthritis can be challenging, however, generally-speaking, the older you are, the easier it is to obtain a benefit. On top of this, you have a better chance of convincing the SSA that you are eligible for disability benefits if you work with a disability attorney.

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