You don’t have to get used to living with arthritis; you’ve been doing it for years. The symptoms come and go; some days you feel fine, and other days you can’t get out of bed. But what happens when the bad days start to outnumber the “okay” days? Can you really depend on Social Security payments to pay your bills?

How Patients Can Get Social Security Disability for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Before they can get benefits, patients should know the difference between osteoarthritis and inflammatory, or rheumatoid, arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory condition that makes the joints stiff, hot, or swollen. In most cases, the symptoms start in the fingers, hands and feet. The disease then progresses to larger joints such as the shoulders and ankles and finally affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. As the years go by, RA will often cause more and more damage to the joints, causing them to become permanently deformed.

There are many different symptoms of RA that can make it difficult for a patient to do his job. For example, nodules may appear on the fingers and toes, causing hand and foot deformities. Patients may also experience fatigue, malaise, and more frequent infections due to a compromised immune system.

You should qualify for benefits as long as the Social Security Administration (SSA) believes that your RA symptoms are significantly limiting. According to the SSA, you could receive benefits if your condition:

  • Causes persistent difficulty walking. Patients who have problems walking or moving around may need a cane, multiple canes, a walker, or a wheelchair.
  • Makes it difficult to use your hands or arms. If your RA affects the joints in both of your arms, you will probably be prevented from performing most of your work duties—lifting objects, gripping things, typing, or even opening doors.
  • Has spread into other systems. In addition to joint inflammation, some patients may experience symptoms in other bodily systems, resulting in chronic fatigue, fever, or involuntary weight loss.
  • Affects your spinal column. Some patients’ arthritis may trigger ankylosing spondylitis, or inflammation in the vertebrae, that causes the bones to become fixed and inflexible. This condition makes it difficult for patients to move, lift objects, or sit for long periods without pain.
  • Causes repeated flare-ups. Many patients are unable to work due to the daily pain and unpredictability of their RA symptoms. If you are regularly treated for fatigue, malaise, or other conditions that make it difficult for you to perform daily living tasks or social interactions, you may be able to receive benefits.

Are you unable to work due to the pain associated with RA? You may qualify for disability benefits to supplement your loss of income. Fill out the contact link on this page to tell us more about your condition, and we will contact you shortly.

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