8 Tips for Applying for Disability for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Today, more than 3 million Americans live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is more than just pain; it is also a leading cause of disability. In fact, RA limits the activities of over 10% of American adults and if left untreated, it can prove to be an unbearable condition. Many people may be wondering how to make ends meet while unable to perform steady work. However, eligibility for Social Security benefits is a possibility.
More about the SSA and SSI
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the branch of the U.S. government that provides disability benefits to individuals who have been unemployed for at least one year due to long-term disability. There are two programs under the SSA – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In order to quality for SSDI benefits, the applicant must have worked for 5 out of the past 10 years, earning enough work credits. This, however, also depends on age. In order to qualify for the program, the applicant must have worked half the time since the applicant was employed.
The SSI, on the other hand, is a program that is based on the needs of low-income families. On top of meeting the disability criteria, you must also meet certain income and asset restrictions. For instance, as an individual, you must earn no more than $710 a month and as a couple, together you must not make more than $1,066 a month. Moreover, as an individual, you must have less than $2000 in assets and as a couple; together you must have no more than $3000 in assets.
When is RA considered a disability?
While the SSA considers rheumatoid arthritis a qualifying disability, you must be able to meet its criteria. The SSA has published a listing known as the Blue Book, which includes all of the medical conditions and specific criteria (extent and severity of the condition) that must be met in order for an individual to qualify for SSD benefits. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the Blue Book requires you to have at least one of the following:
- A condition that affects both of your arms and prevents you from performing any work on a regular basis;
- A condition that affects two or more other organs within your body, causing you to experience at least two of the following symptoms: fever, severe tiredness, unintentional weight loss and depression;
- Persistent inflammation or permanent deformation in one of your major joints, resulting in the inability to perform daily activities or move freely;
- Repeated flare-ups with at least two of the following symptoms: fever, tiredness, and unintentional weight loss;
- Ankylosing spondylitis or another spondyloarthropathy
Furthermore, the SSA will take into consideration your age, your previous work experience, your highest education level, and your overall physical and mental health. If, according to their estimation, you are unable to perform any available work, you will be granted Social Security Disability benefits. However, if your claim is denied, you may want to consider speaking with a Social Security Disability lawyer.
The following tips may be helpful to you when applying for Social Security Disability benefits, so take them into consideration: