Arthritis And Social Security Disability


According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people are effected by Osteoarthritis and another 1.3 million people live with rheumatoid arthritis. These people can be your parents, your siblings, or even you!

Arthritis is broken up into two listings by Social Security. The first, Listing 1.02 for the Major dysfunction of a joint, covers disability caused by Osteoarthritis. Disability caused by inflammatory or rheumatoid arthritis is covered by Listing 14.09.

It is very difficult to meet a listing for osteoarthritis, particularly in a person under the age of 65. Generally, the best approach is to document the existence of osteoarthritis and then document the actual physical limitations it places on a claimant. These physical limitations are referred to as a claimant’s physical residual capacity to perform work related activities. They include activities such as sitting for a long period of time, standing for a long period of time, lifting, pushing and pulling, and walking.  Also, osteoarthritis often presents in the hands of a claimant. If the claimant has had a long history of performing desk jobs requiring manual dexterity, the claimant’s in ability to perform that type of work can be the basis for a finding of “disabled.”

The second listing covering arthritis is 14.09 for inflammatory arthritis. It should be noted that Rheumatoid Arthritis is found in the series of listings covering the immune system. That is because Rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis is actually a systemic disorder, which can manifest itself in all parts of the body, not just the joints. It is however, most common in the joints. As with osteoarthritis it is very difficult to be found disabled based simply on the Listing for inflammatory arthritis. To be found to “meet or equal a listing” a claimant would have to provide a medically documented history of (1) joint pain, (2) joint swelling, (3) joint tenderness, (4) current joint inflammation, (5) occurring in two peripheral joints or one major weight bearing joint, (6) resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively or inability to perform fine or gross movements, and (7) ongoing for 12 months or being expected to end in death.

A finding of disabled based on rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis, like osteoarthritis, is more likely to be based on a claimant’s decreased ability to perform work activities. A claimant needs to be prepared to offer credible testimony as to his or her ability to function in the workplace. What job function could the claimant not perform any longer? What adjustments or allowances did the claimant’s workplace make for him or her? Did the claimant need to rely on his or her co-workers for assistance? Additionally, arthritis is often treated with powerful steroids such as Prednisone, which can have severe side effects. The side effects of this type of medication are not in and of themselves disabling, but can be considered a contributing factor.

If you have arthritis and are considering seeking either SSI or SSDI you should first start going to the doctor for treatment. If you reach a point, after going to the doctor on a continual basis, that you cannot work, then contact Kraft and Associates at 214-999-9999 for a free consultation.