Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. It can also affect other organs and body systems, such as the lungs, heart, and skin. RA can be a debilitating medical condition, affecting a person’s ability to work and perform basic daily living activities. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the impact of RA on a person’s ability to work and offers disability benefits to eligible individuals.
If your RA prevents you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. To be considered for benefits, you must first meet the medical criteria outlined in the SSA’s Blue Book, which lists all medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Listing 14.09 of the Blue Book specifically addresses inflammatory arthritis, which includes RA.
To meet Listing 14.09, you must have medical records that show you have inflammatory arthritis, which causes persistent swelling or deformity in at least one joint, despite ongoing treatment. Additionally, you must have evidence of one of the following:
- Inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively.
- Significant limitations in your ability to stand, walk, or use your upper extremities.
- Repeated episodes of joint inflammation, with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and malaise.
If you meet these requirements, you may automatically qualify for disability benefits. However, if you do not meet the medical criteria in Listing 14.09, you may still be able to qualify for benefits if your residual functional capacity (RFC) is significantly limited.
Your RFC is an assessment of your ability to perform work-related activities, despite your medical condition. The RFC evaluation takes into consideration the types of work you have done in the past, as well as any limitations imposed by your medical condition. If your RFC assessment shows that your RA limits your abilities to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you may still be eligible for benefits.
To determine your RFC, the SSA will consider your medical records, including your diagnosis of RA, any medications you take, and any treatments you have undergone. They will also consider your daily living activities, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of yourself. If your medical records show that your RA prevents you from working for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a complicated and time-consuming process. The SSA will require detailed medical records, employment history, and other information to evaluate your claim. It is important to have a Social Security Disability attorney assist you with your claim to ensure that all necessary information is included and to help you navigate the appeals process if your initial claim is denied.
In addition to meeting the medical criteria, there are other factors that can limit your ability to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. For example, if you are able to perform any type of work, even if it is not the type of work you have done in the past, you may not be eligible for benefits. The SSA will consider your age, education level, and work experience to determine what types of work you are able to perform.
It is important to note that Social Security Disability benefits are not intended to replace all of your income. The benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition. If you are able to work, even with limitations imposed by your RA, you may not be eligible for benefits.
In conclusion, if you have RA and are unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify for benefits, you must meet the medical criteria in Listing 14.09 or have an RFC assessment that shows your RA limits your abilities to work. Applying for benefits can be a complicated process,