The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a number of conditions to be severe enough to prevent you from working. Regardless of the condition, all impairments are subject to evaluation and you must meet certain criteria to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Though most of the conditions listed by the SSA as disabling are permanent or expected to result in death, those that are not require evidence showing that the condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year.

Your Condition

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is often referred to as if it were a single disease, but arthritis is actually a term used to describe more than 100 medical conditions. All of these medical conditions affect the joints and can cause pain, stiffness, inflammation, and cartilage damage. However, joint issues are not the extent of the problem for everyone.

Many types of arthritis are classified as systemic, which means they can affect the entire body. Arthritis-related conditions usually affect the muscles and bones, but can cause damage to any body system or organ.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis and typically affects people who are over age 60. Arthritis not only affects elderly people—it can begin at birth or during young adulthood

How the SSA Evaluates Arthritis

Arthritis is considered a disabling condition by the SSA and may qualify you for either SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits dependent on the condition and your age. The SSA considers inflammatory arthritis an immune system disorder. As such, it is classified with other conditions that may result in recurrent and unusual infections, or inflammation and dysfunction of the body’s own tissues.

Inflammatory arthritis is evaluated by the SSA under four conditions:

  1. Persistent inflammation or persistent deformity of:
    • One or more major peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively
    • One or more major peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively
  2. Inflammation or deformity in one or more major peripheral joints with:
    • Involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved at least to a moderate level of severity
    • At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss)
  3. Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies:
    • What is it: long-term diseases of the joints
    • How it is evaluated:
      • Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 45° or more of flexion from the vertical position (zero degrees)
      • Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 30° or more of flexion (but less than 45°) measured from the vertical position (zero degrees), and involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity
  4. Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
    • Limitation of activities of daily living
    • Limitation in maintaining social functioning
    • Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace

We’ll Fight for the Benefits You’re Owed

Arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints, making it difficult to perform the tasks required in most jobs—including light office work. If you have arthritis, it may be impossible for you to work and earn a living. The SSA can provide benefits to cover your living expenses, but getting your claim approved without an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer on your side can be difficult.

At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we know how to navigate the SSA’s approval system and get clients like you the benefits they deserve. Best of all, we don’t charge any upfront fees for our services—that’s our No Fee Guarantee®. Contact our firm by dialing (800) 477-7315. We’re ready to fight for you.

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