It is estimated that over 46 million people are suffering from arthritis—and it is also a major cause of disability among adults. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory type of arthritis and often chronic in nature. RA is an autoimmune disease and involves destruction of body’s own healthy tissue by immune cells. It can affect people at any age but it is very common in elderly people and overall incidence rises with the advancement of age.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects joints but may also affect other body organs. It principally attacks joints causing inflammation and ultimate destruction of cartilage leadings towards stiffness of joints. The synovial membranes surrounding the joint become inflamed, harder, and thicker. These problems restrict normal movements of a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is also an extremely painful condition and it causes extensive loss of function and mobility of an affected person.
Persistent pain and joint dysfunction are major factors that contribute to a person’s disability. RA has a genetic basis and a blood test called the rheumatoid factor test is used to diagnose this problem. X-rays and other imaging studies like Computed Tomography (CT-Scan) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may also be used to determine the level of damage and severity within affected joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is listed among the list of diseases that could make someone disabled under the Social Security program. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your case under the set criteria of the listing rule to determine if you are eligible for disability benefits or not. And beyond the listing for arthritis there are still other ways you can win benefits with all of your problems and limitations considered together.
People with RA who win disability benefits usually have a history of persistent joint pain, tenderness, swelling involving major joints like the knees, shoulders, hips, elbows, wrists, and hand joints. Despite having done therapy, usually prescription medication, a person must still have signs of joint swelling and tenderness in their medical records. You will also need to produce your blood test results that show a positive for rheumatoid factor or other such objective tests adding more independent proof that you are suffering from this disease. The most important point to consider will be that all these signs and symptoms need to be well documented in your medical evidence to prove your level of severity and disability to the SSA.
Twenty pages about applying for and winning Social Security Disability benefits in Heard & Smith's guidebook. Get the guidebook now.