Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people in the United States, but it can make it difficult or impossible for an individual to work. If you are struggling to make ends meet because of your arthritis, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
The Requirements for Receiving SSDI Benefits for Arthritis
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, your diagnosis must meet the following conditions.
- Your arthritis affects one or more of your major joints.
- Your arthritis has been present for 12 months or longer.
- Your arthritis must significantly limit your ability to perform daily activities such as walking, reaching, lifting, or carrying objects.
When included in the broader category of muscle, back, and joint disorders, arthritis becomes one of the top reasons people receive SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines the criteria for evaluating arthritis in the Blue Book listing 1.00 Musculoskeletal Disorders – Adult. There are four separate sections that apply to people with arthritis, depending on whether the condition affects their back, hips, knees, shoulders, or hands:
- 1.15 Disorders of the skeletal spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root(s)
- 1.16 Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in compromise of the cauda equina
- 1.17 Reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint
- 1.18 Abnormality of a major joint(s) in any extremity
In addition to meeting the criteria for a qualifying disability, you must also have a sufficient number of work credits. Most people will need to have earned a total of 40 credits, but the exact amount you need to earn depends on your age. Younger people need fewer credits to qualify because a person can only earn a maximum of four credits per year.
What You Need to Do to Apply for SSDI Benefits
If you have arthritis and meet the requirements outlined above, you may qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits. The first step in applying for these benefits is gathering all of the documents and paperwork needed by the SSA. This includes medical records from your doctor outlining your diagnosis and any other documents related to your medical history or current medications. You should also have detailed information regarding employment history readily available, including evidence supporting how your condition limits your ability to do the type of work you've previously done.
The steps of the application and appeals process are as follows:
- Completing the SSDI application
- Requesting a reconsideration (if your initial claim is denied)
- Appealing the decision (if your reconsideration is denied)
- Appearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Appealing the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council (if you disagree with the ruling)
- Filing a federal lawsuit (if you disagree with the Appeals Council)
We offer an in-depth look at how applications are evaluated in our free guide, Your Guide to a Successful Social Security Disability Claim: What Claimants, Their Family Members, and Healthcare Providers Need to Know. Request your copy today to help you better understand what to expect from the application process.
How Working With an Attorney Can Increase Your Chances of a Succesful Application
You are not required to hire an attorney to apply for SSDI benefits. However, an experienced Social Security disability attorney can help gather the necessary documentation, complete the application, and represent you during the appeals process. They can also help you understand your rights and the laws that govern SSDI benefits.
Hiring a Social Security disability attorney can increase the chances of a successful outcome in your case, but hiring an attorney does not have to be expensive. Social Security disability attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that they will only be paid if you win your case. This means that you will not have to pay any upfront costs and only have to pay a percentage of your benefits if your case is successful.
Do You Want to Speak to a Skilled SSDI Attorney About Receiving Disability Benefits for Arthritis?
If you are struggling to make ends meet because of your arthritis, don't hesitate to contact Phillip M. Hendry Law to see if you qualify for SSDI benefits. Our firm will work with you through every step of the application and appeals process.
Complete our online contact form or call (318) 553-5900 to schedule a consultation with our experienced Social Security disability attorney. We serve clients across Louisiana, East Texas, and Southwest Arkansas. For your convenience, we offer video conferencing options that let you seek assistance from the comfort of your own home.