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Can Arthritis Qualify Me for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

arthritis, Chicago social security disability attorneyMore than 1.5 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, which is formally known as rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes a person’s body to attack itself, producing inflammation inside a person’s joints. This inflammation frequently causes significant swelling and pain. If left untreated, arthritis can permanently damage cartilage and bones.

The next several posts on this blog will address various aspects of arthritis and how the condition can affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. (Update: The second, third, and fourth posts in this series are now available.)

How Arthritis Affects You

Arthritis usually affects a person’s joints—that includes your hands, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. But as an autoimmune disorder, arthritis can affect other parts of the body. In addition to joint pain, arthritis may produce additional symptoms that can affect your ability to work, such as unusual sensitivity to light or impaired vision, shortness of breath, anemia, and infection of your internal organs.

Arthritis does not necessarily produce consistent symptoms. A person may be fine one day and experience immense swelling and joint pain the following day. Arthritis patients commonly experience “flares” of symptoms that can last several days and even months at a time.

Arthritis and Your Ability to Work

If you suffer from arthritis, it can be difficult to work in a physically demanding job that requires you to stand for multiple hours per day or perform repetitive tasks. Any type of manufacturing, construction, landscaping, healthcare, or food industry job may be impossible to perform while dealing with chronic pain and swelling. Jobs in these industries can also aggravate your arthritis, especially if they involve a good deal of lifting, knee bending, or squatting—basically any activity that requires you to repeatedly work your joints.

Arthritis and Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration does recognize “inflammatory arthritis” as a disability. As with any disability, it is not enough to establish that you have arthritis. To qualify for disability benefits, you will need to demonstrate how arthritis imposes “significant limitations” on your ability to work.

For example, experiencing occasional pain in your knees due to arthritis is unlikely to qualify you for Social Security benefits. But if you have chronic pain in both knees that renders you unable to walk normally—i.e., you need to use a walker or a wheelchair—then you have a strong claim for disability. Similarly, if your arthritis, alone or in combination with other ailments, limits your ability to perform basic activities of daily living, you are likely disabled within the meaning of Social Security regulations.

However, disability benefits are never a given. Social Security often rejects initial claims for disability benefits. This means you may have to go through an extensive appeals process just to get your case heard. An experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer can help you in dealing with the system. Contact Pearson Disability Law, if you need to speak with an Illinois Social Security attorney right away.




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