Between the debilitating pain and the swelling of joints common in arthritis, it is no surprise that the condition often limits people’s ability to work and engage in activities they previously enjoyed. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about ten percent of American adults struggle with activity limitations due to arthritis.
If arthritis limits your ability to work, Social Security disability benefits may be the best way to ensure your financial future is secure. Of course, to draw this type of benefit you will need to meet the qualifications set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA). For help obtaining Social Security disability for arthritis in Pittsburgh, call Berger and Green today: 412-661-1400.
How can I meet the qualifications for Social Security benefits?
First, you will need to show that you cannot participate in what the SSA terms “substantial gainful activity.” This means you cannot earn more than $1,170 per month.
Then, you will need to prove your arthritis prevents you from working. The SSA publishes a Listing of Impairments, outlining certain disabling impairments and the criteria claimants must meet to qualify. If you do not meet the criteria, you have other options to prove your disability and claim the benefits you deserve.
In too many cases, getting the Social Security Disability benefits you need is more complicated than it should be. We will help you determine if you qualify and then help you prove to the SSA that you deserve benefits.
Is my arthritis a disability according to the Social Security Administration?
There are several impairments in the SSA’s impairment listings that may apply to your arthritis symptoms. If your condition falls into any of these categories — and you meet the criteria — the SSA may deem you disabled. These impairments include:
- Listing 1.02
- Listing 1.03
- Listing 1.04
- Listing 14.09
Under this listing, your arthritis must have a profound effect on your ability to stand, walk, or perform gross or fine motor skills.
If your arthritis necessitated either fusion or reconstructive surgery of your hip or knee, you may suffer difficulties with mobility. Many people struggle to walk on their own without assistance for an extended time after these procedures, and may never return to full mobility. You could qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you:
- Had surgery on your hip, knee, or other major weight-bearing joint;
- Have limited mobility as a result; and
- Are not expected to walk unassisted for at least a year
When arthritis affects the spine, it can be particularly debilitating. In order to receive approval based on this impairment listing, you will need to prove that you suffer from one of the following conditions:
- A compromised or compressed nerve root
- Spinal arachnoiditis
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
The inflammatory arthritis impairment listing includes symptoms common in severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and reactive arthritis. To qualify under this impairment listing, you will need to show proof of:
- Inflammation or deformity in a joint that severely limits your mobility or ability to perform gross or fine motor skills;
- Inflammation or deformity in a joint with related disease in at least two body systems and other associated symptoms;
- Bone fusion (ankylosing spondylitis) that limits flexibility according to certain limits; or
- Repeated episodes of inflammatory arthritis that include specific symptoms as well as physical limitations
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What other options do I have if my condition does not meet one of these listings?
When your condition does not fall under one of the SSA’s impairment listings, those tasked with disability determination in your case must look deeper to determine the nature of your condition and how it impacts your life. Factors include:
- Your physical condition
- Any limitations caused by your condition
- Your age
- Your past work experience and any transferable skills
- Your education
A key factor in this determination is often a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. This form, completed by your doctor, outlines your abilities and limitations due to your arthritis.
If this form shows that your condition limits your ability to engage in any type of work, the SSA may award you benefits. To determine your RFC rating, the doctor may ask you to perform a range of common tasks, such as standing, walking, sitting, kneeling, lifting, pulling, pushing, typing, writing, and a number of other tasks requiring fine motor skills.
Are there any other criteria I must meet?
Yes. The additional criteria you must meet depends on which benefit you are applying for.
If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have a certain number of work credits. The number you need will depend on your age.
If you have not worked long enough, you may be able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify, you need to have a low income and low assets.
You must also make sure you fill out the application correctly. For more information on what the SSA needs from you, read our post here.
How can Berger and Green help me get the benefits I deserve?
At Berger and Green, our attorneys represent clients who need help securing Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. No matter if you are applying for the first time, struggling to collect the necessary evidence or appealing a denial for benefits, we can give you the support and advice you need to secure the income you deserve.
We have decades of experience helping Pittsburgh residents get the benefits they need. We know what the SSA is looking for on your disability application and we will make sure you have it. If you receive a denial, we use our experience with the Social Security system and the appeals process to ensure you get the benefits you need.
Call us today at 412-661-1400 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review and consultation.