How To Get Disability For Arthritis

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If your loved ones have been left dependent due to arthritis, we will help you understand how to get disability for arthritis.

Are you suffering from arthritis? Has it confined you from doing your regular activities? According to research, you are not alone; out of 54.4 million doctor-diagnosed patients with arthritis, 43.5 percent face limitations to do their activities because of arthritis.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

It doesn’t stop here; when it aggravates, it will affect your mental health and may also lead to disability. According to a study, arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the US. If you want to know if you come under that percentage of people and also how to get disability for arthritis, read our article.

Before we talk about how to get disability for arthritis, let us see what arthritis is about:

What Is Arthritis?

We can describe arthritis as inflammation in joints. It can cause swelling in one or more joints. The stiffness of joints may increase, and it can also make our joints tender. Symptoms of arthritis can worsen with age can affect our physical and mental health. arthritis can even get severe and cause immobility in people and confine them to bed or wheelchair.

The major types of arthritis are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis– It is majorly an autoimmune disease.
  • Osteoarthritis-It occurs when our joints are overused. It may also affect people having injuries in the joints and those who are overweight.
  • Psoriatic arthritis-this type of arthritis majorly affects the skin and joints.

Can Arthritis Be Cured?

There is no complete cure for arthritis. We have some drugs which will help us from giving relief from pain. Treatments like massage, physiotherapy also help in reducing the pain.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

Some undergo surgeries like replacement of the knee, hips, and more to ease their pain. Apart from these, weight loss, yoga, regular exercise will also help us get relief from the pain.

Which Places Should Be Avoided When Suffering From Arthritis?

arthritis gives the pain all around the year. But when we compare it with hot places, cold and rainy places may increase joint pains. During cold weather, people tend to stay indoors and hibernate long skipping exercises; this will affect the pains in the joints. So warm or dry climate can be considered as the best climate for rheumatoid arthritis, mainly as this type of arthritis is primarily because of the inflammation in the joints.

Now, as we know what arthritis is about, let us see who determines our eligibility for getting the disability benefits for arthritis.


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Who Gives Disability Benefits for Arthritis?

Social Security Administration is an agency that gives disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has some medical criteria that arthritis has to match up with to get disability benefits. So anyone who’s suffering from arthritis doesn’t get disability benefits automatically and has to satisfy specific standards to get one.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

Some essential criteria that we can consider to put someone under the disability category are based on their lack of doing daily activities:

  1. Unable to walk for more time.
  2. Unable to lift small weights.
  3. Unable to lift hands or legs
  4. Unable to climb the stairs.
  5. Unable to have a grip on small objects when they hold the things.

But when we talk about disability because of arthritis, we have to talk about two major arthritis types. Out of many kinds, the major ones we come across are Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis. The major arthritis types that come under the social security benefits under disability are also these. Let us see some basic info about them and when do we consider them as a disability.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder that generally affects joints in the hands and also the feet. It comes under the category of autoimmune disease; that is, the body’s immune system will affect the tissues and internal organs. When a person has Rheumatoid arthritis for a long time, he may even suffer from bone erosion and deformation in the joints.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects which body parts?

It is not confined only to joints; it may even spread to the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, and nerves.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:

  1. fever
  2. appetite loss
  3. stiffness in the joints
  4. swelling in the joints


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Which symptoms will make rheumatoid arthritis come under a disability?

When typical symptoms like swelling of joints and pain in the joints don’t stop there and become worse, causing the pain to affect other body parts like shoulder, hip, wrist, and knees, it may lead to a deformation of joints. If this deformation stops you from working full time any longer, you can consider this symptom to consider Rheumatoid arthritis under disability.

Which standards of the Social Security Administration should a Rheumatoid arthritis person satisfy to come under a disability?

Social security benefits for disability are for the workers who are not able to work any longer because of arthritis:

The medical conditions that the applicant has to satisfy are:

  1. The applicant must be suffering from pain or deformity in any joint that is causing him the inability to walk.
  2. Pain in one or more joints stopping them from doing small and large movements using their hands.
  3. Swelling or deformation in any joint.
  4. Any disease in the vertebral column or Ankylosing spondylitis.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

Any of the above symptoms that impact the applicant from doing any of his daily activities will bring him under the medical criteria under consideration by SSA.

Along with the above medical criteria, SSA will also consider the below-mentioned criteria to grant a person suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis a disability.

  1. The applicant must be out of work for at least twelve months or longer because of the severity of the pain.
  2. The applicant must have a doctor who can give detailed information about your health. Detailed medical records issued by the doctor will help the SSA see the disease’s course and how it has affected his work life.
  3. Applicant needs to include his X-rays, MRI, and any scan reports when applying for disability. Also include results from the test, diagnosis, and plan of action to address the pain as this will help SSA check their criteria to consider for disability. 
  4. The doctor must also fill a Residual Functional Capacity form that will help the SSA know his intensity of pain and any other work he may be able to do. RFC form is important because, based on this, SSA will estimate if he will be able to do any other job.
  5. The applicant to come under disability must also specify what kind of jobs he is unable to do for what reason because Rheumatoid arthritis worsens over a period of time, so he may have done the same job earlier but unable to do it now. The statements from colleagues or evaluation sheets from work or irregular attendance can support his disability claim.
  6. The applicant must also have some work credits; they are nothing but the credits we receive based on our work tenure and age. The credits will help SSA determine how long he has been working.

The above medical and work conditions have to be satisfied by the applicant; then he can call his arthritis a disability and earn disability benefits.


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Osteoarthritis is another type of arthritis. Also known as wear and tear disease, the cartilage around the bones wears off when one suffers from Osteoarthritis. It doesn’t only affect bones; it may also affect the joints in the knees, hips, hands, and spine.

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It will deteriorate the bones’ connective tissue, and we even see some cases where people suffering from Osteoarthritis are confined to the wheelchair.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:

  1. stiffness in the bones.
  2. Spurs in the bones.
  3. Tenderness in the joints.
  4. Joint pains.
  5. We will hear a crackling sound when you move the joint.
  6. Loss of flexibility when we move our joints.
  7. Swelling around the joint.

Which symptoms will make Osteoarthritis come under a disability under SSA standards?

Osteoarthritis majorly affects joints, so Social Security Administration has some impairment listings to satisfy to call Osteoarthritis a disability. They are

  1. Spinal nerve root compression will affect the movement in the spine.
  2. Narrowing of the lumbar region in the spinal canal, making it difficult to walk.
  3. Burning sensation around the spinal cord that will not let us stay in the same posture for a long time.
  4. An increase in joint pain affects either hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, hand, or wrist, making it difficult for us to walk or use our hands.

If you do not satisfy any of the above criteria, then SSA will see if you come under Residual Functional Capacity.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

Residual Functional Capacity assessment will help SSA to estimate if you can do any kind of work despite having Osteoarthritis. For example, if arthritis affects your legs, you can do work using your hands while sitting. Or if you have arthritis in the shoulders, SSA will see what works you can do.

If you are unable to do any work, then SSA will consider your Osteoarthritis as a disability.

Other evaluations SSA will do before granting the disability for the Osteoarthritis patient:

  1. Are still working, then you may not be granted a disability.
  2. How long have you been suffering from Osteoarthritis?
  3. Is your medical condition coming under any of the above medical criteria?
  4. Are you able to do any of the previous work even with this pain?
  5. Are you able to do any jobs other than an earlier job?

After evaluating all of the above criteria and considering your medical condition, the SSA will also evaluate your medical records, doctor prescription, work credits, and medication you are using and then decide to grant you disability.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What does Social Security Administration mean by disability?

The Social Security Administration grants disability benefits to those who have already worked in a job with social security coverage and cannot work now because of disability. 

According to them, disability means 

  1. A person is unable to do any job because of health issues.
  2. They are unable to do any other work.
  3. A person who is suffering from any medical condition for a year or more.

Can arthritis stop us from working?

Intensity of pain because of arthritis varies from person to person. Some may have mild symptoms that may not affect their work lives. Many can address their pain using the medication regularly or by undergoing surgeries. 

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

But sometimes, the pain may not reduce and become severe, causing unbearable pain when they sit for long or cause pain when they use their hands and wrist. This may affect our work life, and we may have to quit. So yes, in some cases, arthritis can stop us from working.

Does spinal arthritis come under the category of disability?

Spinal arthritis affects the spine. Spinal arthritis will result in immense pain in the spine and a burning sensation around the spinal cord. When the situation worsens, it may result in immobility. So under the criteria of SSA, Spinal arthritis can be considered as a disability.

What do you mean by SSDI?

SSDI is nothing but Social Security Disability Insurance; Social Security Administration grants that insurance to those who satisfy the given criteria. The benefits granted under SSDI are based on medical standards and work history. The applicant must have arthritis for one year or more. Benefits received by the applicant vary from person to person. It is based on the factor of the total work duration of the applicant. 


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Losing work or unable to work because of arthritis can affect a person’s life emotionally, physically, and financially. Having financial support to help them and their family is a great help during this time. With this article’s help, we have given you a clear idea of disability benefits for arthritis.

How To Get Disability For Arthritis

If you have arthritis, you can avail yourself of the disability benefits if you satisfy the criteria mentioned above. If you cannot claim any of the benefits even after fulfilling the requirements, you can take legal help and claim your benefits. I hope we were helpful to you and you work on claiming your benefits today. Do share our article with many and spread the word among people like you.