Disability Benefits for Arthritis
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints and is one of the most common disabling conditions in the world. Arthritis typically causes stiffness and pain around the affected areas. The condition is incurable but the symptoms can be relieved through medication, therapy and/or surgery.
Types of Arthritis
There are over one hundred different types of arthritis that all vary in cause and location of inflammation. The most common types of arthritis are listed below.
Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) is a type of arthritis that develops when the protective tissue and fluid inside the joint(s) wears down. It typically occurs due to long-term or excessive usage of the joints especially if the joints were repeatedly injured.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when an individual’s immune system attacks the lining of the joints (known as synovium). As time passes, the constant inflammation of the joint(s) may lead to permanent damage. The inflammation can also affect internal organs such as the heart, spleen, and liver in some cases.
Psoriatic Arthritis is a type of arthritis that generally happens to people with the skin condition known as psoriasis. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints and causes inflammation.
Goutis a type of arthritis that develops when high concentrations of uric acid in the blood cause crystals to form within the joints. These crystals can inflict pain, inflammation and swelling.
Qualifying with Osteoarthritis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has their own guide known as the Blue Book (also known as the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security) that lists the requirements necessary for a given condition to qualify. When an applicant applies for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will evaluate the severity of his or her condition and will compare it to the blue book to determine their eligibility. For an individual with osteoarthritis to qualify, his or her condition must meet the requirements for section 14.09 Inflammatory Arthritis of the blue book. The requirements for 14.09 are listed below.
All of the following must have the proper medical documentation from a certified medical professional.
14.09 Inflammatory Arthritis
Persistent inflammation or persistent deformity of:
1.) One or more major peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to walk/move around effectively
2.) One or more major peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively
Inflammation or deformity in one or more major peripheral joints with:
1.) Involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity
2.) At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs
- severe fatigue
- involuntary weight loss
Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies with:
1.) Ankylosis of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 45 degree or more of flexion from the vertical position
2.) Ankylosis of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 30 degrees or more of flexion (but less than 45 degrees) measured from the vertical position 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
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:
1.) Limitation of maintaining social functioning
2.) Limitation of activities of daily living
3.) Limitation of completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace
If an applicant's arthritis doesn't meet the 14.09, he or she may also qualify through listings 1.02, 1.03, and 1.04.
1.02 Major dysfunction of joint(s)
Distinguished by gross anatomical deformity, joint pain and stiffness, and limited mobility or motion of affect joint(s). An applicant must also have one of the following as well.
A.) One or more major peripheral weight-bearing joint causing the inability to walk
B.) One major peripheral joint in each upper extremity causing the inability to engage in fine and gross movements
1.03 Reconstructive Surgery or Surgical Arthrodesis of a Major Weight-Bearing Joint
An individual with arthritis who has gone through reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint and can no longer ambulate effectively and is not expected to recover within the next 12 months.
1.04 Disorders of the spine
Arthritis in the spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord as well as one of the following:
A.) Evidence of nerve root compression
B.) Spinal arachnoiditis
C.) Lumber spinal stenosis
Qualifying with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis and all other types of arthritis are evaluated through the same listings in the Blue Book as Osteoarthritis that are listed above (1.02, 1.03, 1.04, and 14.09). It is also possible for an applicant to qualify with arthritis and not meet any of the given listings. This can be achieved through the medical vocational allowance; a universal qualification for all conditions in case an individual doesn't meet the necessary listing within the Blue Book. To meet the medical vocational allowance requirement, an applicant's condition must be severe enough to prevent them from engaging in unskilled work. Unskilled work involves any work that requires very little education and training to perform. If an applicant's arthritis will prevent them from engaging in unskilled work, he or she will qualify for disability benefits.