Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the U.S., limiting the activities of nearly 10% of the American adult population and, if predictions turn out to be accurate, it will affect nearly 26% of people over the age of 18 by 2040.
There are two primary types of arthritis:
Both forms of arthritis cause pain, inflammation, and other complications that can impact your ability to work full-time. If this happens to you, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits, which will allow you to meet your living expenses, medical treatment costs, and other obligations.
What Disability Benefits Are Available?
The SSA has two types of disability benefit programs available to those who qualify. While each one meets the needs of a different type of applicant, both deliver benefits to people who are disabled and meet certain medical criteria.
Medical Eligibility with Arthritis
The SSA determines your eligibility by consulting the Blue Book, which is its official catalog of disabling conditions.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) appears under Listing 14.09 Inflammatory arthritis, which states that you will be considered disabled if you meet one of the criteria below:
Osteoarthritis is covered in Listing 1.04 Disorders of the spine. To qualify under this listing, you must meet one of the following criteria:
Arthritis is also mentioned in Section 1.02, which deals with joint dysfunction. To meet this listing, your joints must experience arthritis-related deformity accompanied by leg or arm impairment.
Applying for Disability Benefits with Arthritis
When you apply for SSA benefits, the application must be accompanied by medical images and documentation that confirms your diagnosis. Examples include:
Your doctor will also have to complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which the SSA will use to determine if having arthritis prevents you from working at a job you are trained and qualified for, or at the very least learning and mastering a new skill. If you are applying for SSI, which is strictly needs based, you must submit your financial details and be interviewed by a SSA representative.
Receiving Benefits Without Meeting a Listing & Applying
If you don’t meet a Blue Book listing, you may still be approved for disability benefits via a medical vocational allowance. The SSA reviews your RFC form to evaluate how arthritis limits your daily activities and will grant you benefits if the impairment is significant. Medical vocational allowances are intended to make benefits available to disabled individuals who did not meet a listing.
For more information about qualifying for disability benefits when you are living with any type of arthritis, visit the SSA’s website, contact your closest SSA office, or call 1-800-772-1213. Arthritis can be challenging to cope with, but regular monthly payments will ease your financial burden and cover your medical costs as you improve your quality of life.