Ankylosing spondylitis, as well as other types of inflammatory arthritis, can make it difficult to work. Job-related tasks are often difficult or impossible to complete, and your family might be facing significant financial stress. If you suffer from ankylosing spondylitis and it prevents you from earning a living, you may qualify for disability benefits. This could include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), depending on your work history and assets.
At Berger and Green, our disability team understands what it takes to get Social Security Disability (SSD) for ankylosing spondylitis in Pittsburgh. We can explain the qualifications and walk you through the application process. We will even review your application and ensure you completed it accurately before filing. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) already denied your benefits, we can help you appeal the decision and get the monthly payout you deserve.
Call our office at 412-661-1400 for a complimentary consultation.
Ankylosing Spondylitis in the Social Security Impairment Listings
The SSA publishes a book of impairment listings outlining the disabilities that qualify for benefits. The listing that applies to ankylosing spondylitis is in Section 14.09 – Inflammatory Arthritis. Under this listing, you will find the criteria you must meet to qualify for disability for ankylosing spondylitis. To qualify, you must have medical imaging scans that show ankylosis (i.e., fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine. This fixation must appear:
- When you are at a 45-degree angle of flexion or more; or
- When you are at a 30-degree angle (or more but less than 45 degrees), if you are also experiencing symptoms in other organs or body systems.
If you plan to apply for SSD benefits, we recommend seeking help from your doctor before taking any action. Your doctor’s opinion on your abilities, and his notes in your medical records, can play a key role in getting the benefits you need. He can explain if you meet the qualifications in the impairment listings and ensure you have the x-rays and other imaging necessary to prove your disability. He may also need to cooperate with the SSA to confirm your impairment.
Our attorneys can also help you understand how the SSA determines if you qualify for disability. Contact us for more information.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Without Meeting an Impairment Listing
If you suffer from ankylosing spondylitis but it does not meet the listing, you may still qualify for benefits based on your residual functional capacity (RFC).
The disability examiner handling your application will assign your RFC based on your ability to work, the type of work you can do, and for how long you can do this work. There are three ways the disability examiner can review your abilities to assign an RFC. She may review your medical records and application information, ask your doctor to complete a worksheet about your abilities, or ask a third-party practitioner to evaluate your abilities.
Your RFC examination must consider your ability to complete a list of job-related tasks and other activities of daily living. If, during this evaluation, the disability examiner learns you cannot work, you will likely qualify for disability benefits.
Additional Qualifications for Disability Benefits
In general, proving you suffer from an impairment that qualifies you for disability benefits is the hardest part of getting the money you need. However, many people also receive technical denials of their applications. The SSA issues a technical denial when an applicant does not meet other qualifications for the SSDI or SSI program. The criteria are different for each program.
SSDI Qualification Criteria
This program requires you to have worked long enough to earn a certain number of work credits based on your age. You will also need to earn less than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit each month and suffer from a permanent disability.
SSI is a program for low-income families who need help making ends meet when a parent, child, or individual suffers from a qualifying impairment or is over age 65. This program has very strict requirements involving income and asset limits. While almost all types of income count against you when determining if you are eligible for SSI, you are not required to have a work history to get these benefits. This allows children and those who have not worked recently to draw SSI.
Fighting a Denial From the SSA
It is not easy to get approval for disability benefits. Many people receive a denial in response to their initial application and only gain approval through the appeals process. If the SSA denied your initial claim, we will help you fight for the benefits you need and deserve.
You only have a limited time after receiving a denial notice to file your appeal, so it is important we act quickly. We can request an appeals hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge and get on the docket as soon as possible. It is important to note, however, that these judges are very busy and this process could take from 18 to 24 months.
While we wait for your hearing date, we will review your application and determine why the SSA issued a denial. Then, we can try to fix the problem, collect additional evidence to prove your impairment, or identify ways to document you meet the other criteria.
By the time your appeals hearing arrives, we will be ready to present the strongest possible case to the Administrative Law Judge. Usually, we can help our clients get the benefits they qualify for through this process. If not, there are other options we can pursue to get you the monthly payments you deserve.
Talk to a Pittsburgh Disability Attorney About Getting Benefits for Your Ankylosing Spondylitis
At Berger and Green, our team can help you get the disability benefits you need. For many people who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, it is impossible to continue working and make ends meet. We know how important disability benefits can be to you and your family. We will review your application, evaluate your case, or help you navigate the appeals process. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.