Gout is a painful condition that occurs when there’s a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream, causing needle-like crystal deposits in the Hand With a Stop Gout Sign Painted in Redjoints. Most often, the first attack of gout happens to the big toe—which becomes swollen, red, and sore. 

Usually, the symptoms of acute gout are effectively treated with medication, and it’s also preventable by modifying your diet and lifestyle. Consequently, it may not be easy to meet the requirements of the Social Security Administration (SSA) for receiving benefit payments.

The Four Stages of Gout

There are four stages of gout, and the progression of this condition is divided into the following areas:

  • Asymptomatic hyperuricemia. During this stage, a patient doesn’t present symptoms and usually needs no treatment. However, the patient’s blood level of uric acid is higher.
  • Acute. Symptoms develop rapidly at this stage, and a patient experiences a “gout attack.” It is during this stage that sodium urate crystals have accumulated and formed deposits in the joints. These deposits cause swelling, redness and pain, and the attack can last for three to ten days.   
  • Intercritical gout. This is an interim period when the patient has no attacks and is symptom free. However, the crystals are silently accumulating and being deposited in the joints. It is likely that the patient will have another attack unless his uric acid level is reduced.
  • Chronic tophaceous gout. This final stage is a type of chronic arthritis that can result in permanent damage including deformity and destruction to bone and cartilage. Kidney damage is also possible. At this stage, a patient may be eligible for social security benefits.

Remember that the SSA doesn’t award benefits simply because you have gout. The determination is based on whether the condition causes functional limitations. If you’re unable to work, or normal work activity has become difficult, you may be eligible for benefits.

A gout attack can be triggered by many things including alcohol consumption, stressful events, certain medications, and diseases. If your gout has become debilitating, and you can no longer enjoy or participate in everyday activities or sustain employment, call us at 402-933-5405 or email us at [email protected] for free evaluation of your eligibility for Social Security benefits.


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