Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a debilitating condition that impacts a person’s ability to work. One study found that over one-third of people with RA were no longer able to work a decade after they were diagnosed with the condition.
As one arthritis expert notes, “The decision to stop working can be one of the most difficult and emotionally charged ones you’ll ever make. But if you continue to work when you shouldn’t, you may be placing yourself at physical and emotional risk.” That’s where Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a lifeline.
What’s involved in filing a claim?
People who have a medical condition that prevents them from working can qualify for SSDI benefits if their condition is expected to continue for at least a year or to culminate in their death. Obtaining SSDI benefits if you have RA can be challenging, in part because cases vary in severity and in the amount they limit a person’s ability to move and perform the functions they once did as part of their job. Even if you can’t do a job that requires some physical labor, you may be able to do more sedentary work. The executive of one disability representation company explains, “If you still have the ability to do a very simple job, Social Security will likely deny your claim.”
To file an SSDI claim, you’ll need your rheumatologist to verify that you’re no longer able to work at all. They’ll likely need to provide evidence including MRI and blood work results. You’ll need to detail how RA impacts activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing yourself and cleaning the house without assistance. You’ll need to detail your treatment history and how the condition has progressed.
Don’t be afraid to detail the mental health aspect of RA
It’s not uncommon for people with debilitating conditions like RA to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that can impact their ability to work. If you’re seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional, they may be able to provide information that can help with your claim.
If your claim has been rejected, it’s wise to seek legal guidance. An attorney who’s experienced in disability benefits can help you present a claim that’s more likely to be accepted.