While you knew your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) would stop you from working eventually, you didn’t think it would happen so soon. You’re tired all the time, sitting for too long hurts your back, and you can’t stand for more than a few minutes without significant pain. You applied for Social Security disability benefits but just got a letter saying they can’t help you at all. You are not sure what to do next.

You May Still Qualify for Benefits

Many patients with RA can still qualify for benefits—even after their applications have been denied. Even if they do not meet the specific medical criteria for inflammatory arthritis, they may be able to get payments if they can show that they are unable to perform regular work due to the constraints of their condition. The most common ways to do this involve providing the Social Security Administration (SSA) with proof of the following:

  • Residual Functional Capacity. When patients do not meet or equal a particular medical listing, the SSA will grant or deny benefits based on their Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). Simply put, the RFC is the maximum amount of work you could be expected to do with the limitations of your condition. The SSA should evaluate all of your functional limitations, as well as any restrictions recommended by your doctor. For instance, if you are unable to stand for longer than 15 minutes, you will probably not be able to work at a customer service counter that does not have seating available to you.
  • Specific Symptoms. You should take care to include as many of your disabling symptoms as possible, including depression, fatigue, pain, and anything else that impacts your ability to work. You may be able to do sedentary work if you have difficulty walking, but even your sedentary abilities may be compromised if you also have finger deformities that affect your typing and filing skills.
  • Medical-Vocational Ruling. After the SSA has determined your RFC, they will figure out how likely it is that you could be retrained to do alternate work. Factors such as your age, education level, and work experience will all affect the decision; younger applicants may be deemed not disabled because they could train for a new profession, whereas older applicants are more likely to be approved for benefits.

Are you ready to appeal the SSA’s decision to deny your Social Security disability benefits? Email us at [email protected] to tell us why your claim was denied, call (402)933- 5405 or start a live chat now.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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