If you suffer from arthritis and cannot work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. These much-needed benefits can help cover your medical costs and basic living expenses. However, obtaining disability benefits is a challenge — initial claims are denied more often than not. The best way to protect your rights is to consult with Disability Attorneys of Arizona
Our experienced disability attorneys have a well-deserved reputation as dedicated advocates of the disabled. We have a working knowledge of the eligibility requirements for disability benefits and will guide you through all aspects of the disability claims process.
Arthritis may be debilitating, but don’t let it stop you from getting the benefits you deserve. Contact our Phoenix or Tucson office today so we can start working on your claim. You will not pay any attorneys’ fees until we obtain benefits for you.
Does arthritis qualify for disability benefits?
Generally, there are two main forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the result of wear and tear on the ligaments in your joints over time, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the tissue in the joints.
Whether your arthritis is a disability depends on whether it prevents you from working and the degree to which it limits your ability to conduct daily activities, such as
- Walking for an extended period of time
- Standing or sitting
- Climbing stairs
- Grasping small objects
- Raising your arms
It is worth noting that the eligibility requirements differ for each type of arthritis; claims are handled on a case-by-case basis, and all claims must be supported by medical evidence. If you or a loved one is seeking disability benefits for arthritis or joint pain, working with an experienced Arizona disability attorney is a wise choice.
How Social Security Evaluates Osteoarthritis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a list of qualifying impairments (the Blue Book) that disability examiners use as a guide to determine if claimants meet the criteria to be classified as disabled. The listing includes a variety of back and joint conditions under which osteoarthritis may be covered. Your claim may be approved if you meet the requirements for one of those listings.
To qualify for a spinal disorder, for example, you must have a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in the spine that is accompanied by compression of the nerve root, narrowing of the spinal canal or inflammation of the membrane surrounding the nerves of the spinal cord.
You may also qualify for having major dysfunction of a joint (e.g. hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist) based on specific criteria, including:
- Narrowing of joint spaces
- Fusing of joints (ankylosis)
- Destruction of the bone
In any event, your claim must be supported by medical evidence that shows recurrent stiffness, joint pain, and loss of joint motion that either makes it difficult to walk without assistive devices (crutches, cane, walker) or prevents you from using your hands effectively. If your arthritis has caused a spinal disorder or major joint dysfunction, it takes a skilled disability attorney to get you the disability benefits you need and deserve.
Obtaining Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Arizona
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks the membranes surrounding the joints. The disease typically starts in the hands and feet and progresses to other parts of the body including the knees, hips, and shoulders. Over time, RA can result in permanent joint damage and deformity.
The qualifications for obtaining benefits for RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis (psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout) include:
- Inflammatory arthritis in the joints of the leg, causing difficulties with walking
- Inflammatory arthritis in the joints of both arms
- Persistent inflammation and deformity of two or more major joints that impact accompanying organ systems
- Repeated flare-ups that interfere with your movement, social functioning, and daily life
If you do not meet the criteria outlined in the Blue Book, you may still qualify for disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. The SSA will assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether your arthritis is severe enough to prevent you from working and leading a normal life. Your RFC is an assessment of your ability to carry out daily activities (walking, sitting, standing, bending, lifting, grasping).
How A Disability Attorney Can Help With Your Arthritis Claim
Determining whether your arthritis is a disability and obtaining the benefits you deserve is challenging. Submitting an application is complicated. There are numerous forms and questionnaires to complete and your claim will be denied if there are mistakes or omissions. Also, you will be required to provide medical evidence that supports your claim.
At Disability Attorneys of Arizona, we will guide you through the claims process, help you compile the necessary information, work closely with your doctor to develop a comprehensive medical record, and handle all communications with Social Security.
If your initial claim is denied, we are prepared to handle your disability appeal and will represent you at the disability hearing. We are comfortable appearing before administrative law judges and will work to make sure your claim is properly evaluated. Ultimately, working with an experienced lawyer increases the likelihood of having your claim approved.
Contact Our Experienced Arizona Disability Attorneys
If you are suffering from debilitating arthritis, you probably have concerns about getting the medical treatment you need and not being able to work. The best way to address those concerns is to consult with an experienced disability attorney. Contact us today to learn how we can help.