If you have rheumatoid arthritis that prevents you from working, you might qualify for Social Security benefits. The process for recovering Social Security benefits is long, complicated, and highly technical. Many people who apply, especially those who apply for benefits without the advice of a knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer, receive a denial the first time they apply.

But do not despair. If you are unable to work due to rheumatoid arthritis, call a disability lawyer from Lunn & Forro, PLLC for help getting Social Security disability for rheumatoid arthritis in Raleigh: 888-966-6566.

Does the SSA consider rheumatoid arthritis a disability?

In severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is possible to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. You will have to prove that your RA prevents you from being able to work. Not being able to perform the work you have done in the past is not enough. The SSA requires you to show you are unable to perform any type of work.

Social Security disability payments can include both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For either one, your medical condition must either:

  • meet the severity requirements of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Listing of Impairments
  • cause so much impairment in your function that you are not able to maintain employment

What are the medical criteria to obtain disability benefits for RA?

The SSA’s Blue Book, which contains the listing for rheumatoid arthritis, contains highly technical and complicated information. Work with your doctor and with us to determine what exactly the SSA will be looking for.

The SSA requires that you prove you have “a severe medically determinable impairment.” The SSA considers RA to be an autoimmune disorder, included in Section 14.09 Inflammatory Arthritis.

Section 14.09 requires your RA to include:

Persistent inflammation or deformity of:

  • one or more major weight-bearing joints, preventing you from being able to walk effectively or
  • one or more major joints in each of your arms, preventing you from being able to perform fine and gross motor skills effectively

OR

One or more of your major peripheral joints being inflamed or deformed, combined with BOTH:

  • two or more organs or body systems being involved, and with at least a moderate amount of severity in one of them, AND
  • at least two of these: severe fatigue, malaise, involuntary weight loss, or fever

OR

Ankylosing Spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies, combined with EITHER:

  • Dorsolumbar or cervical spine fixation (ankylosis) shown on medical imaging at the required level of severity, OR
  • Dorsolumbar or cervical spine fixation (ankylosis) shown on medical imaging at a somewhat lesser level of severity but combined with two or more organs or body systems being involved, with one having at least moderate severity.

OR

Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis, combined with:

  • at least two of these: severe fatigue, malaise, involuntary weight loss, or fever AND
  • at least one of these, at a marked level: limitation in daily living activities; limitation of social functioning; or deficiencies in concentration, persistence or pace at such a level as to cause limitations in being able to complete tasks in a timely manner.

If you do not meet the severity criteria for RA, you might be able to recover benefits through a medical vocational assessment. To determine whether you are eligible, a claims examiner will examine you and your medical records before assigning you a residual functional capacity (RFC) rating. This rating will determine your eligibility for benefits.

What are the other criteria for disability benefits?

The SSA’s definition of a disability is being unable to “engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

You must also be unable to perform any kind of work, not just the type of work you are used to doing. Your medical condition must persist, despite treatment. And you cannot earn more than $1,170 a month. If you earn more, you will be engaging in “substantial gainful activity” and, therefore, not disabled.

You must also meet certain criteria depending on whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI.

If you are applying for SSDI, you must have worked for a certain amount of time and must have paid taxes.

If you have not worked for a sufficient period of time, you must have a low income and low assets to apply for SSI.

How can I prove that I meet the requirements for benefits?

The SSA will require certain standard medical tests to prove the factors you are relying on in your claim for benefits. In claims for benefits based on RA, medical imaging is one of the commonly utilized medical tests.

The SSA requires that any imaging you submit with your claim be “appropriate medically acceptable imaging.” For purposes of establishing the presence and severity of your RA, this can include angiography, x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and other imaging techniques, as long as they are appropriate.

You can also provide testimony from friends, family, supervisors, and coworkers to establish how your RA limits you.

What happens next if the SSA denies my claim?

The SSA denies most disability benefits claims. If the SSA denies your claim, a Raleigh Social Security disability lawyer from Lunn & Forro, PLLC can help you prepare your appeal. There are multiple levels of appeals available. Being extremely well prepared is vital to your claim.

Call today for a free consultation with a disability lawyer in Raleigh.

Lunn & Forro, PLLC will fight for you and advocate for your right to receive the benefits you deserve. Call 888-966-6566 today to schedule your no-obligation consult with a disability lawyer in Raleigh at Lunn & Forro, PLLC.