Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States live with Rheumatoid Arthritis, also called RA. The intensity and severity of the disease are different for everyone. While some people may only have minor fatigue and aches, others are completely disabled. Here are four tips to get approved for Social Security Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Treat with a Rheumatologist and Confirm Your Diagnosis: Several tests will help to confirm your diagnosis, and the following should be included in your medical records:
- Blood antibody tests: Typical antibodies for Rheumatoid arthritis may include anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) and rheumatoid factor (RF), and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti-CCP). Approximately 80% of people with RA test positive for the RF
- Inflammation blood tests: Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) may also be tested.
- Imaging tests: x-rays, CT-scans, or MRIs might be performed to assist with diagnosis and to rate the severity of your disease.
While any doctor can provide this information, the SSA gives more weight to the opinion of medical specialists. Therefore, it’s essential that you work with your rheumatologist to gather this medical information.
- Educate Your Rheumatologist Of Your Symptoms: Remember Social Security Judges rely on your doctors notes when making a decision on whether you can work! Specifically, the judges are looking for symptoms in the notes that impact your daily functioning and your ability to work. Often, this is not going to be in the medical records unless you make it your business to tell your doctor about these problems. Work-impairing symptoms from RA include:
- Limitations of activities of daily living (ADLs): This may include, but is not limited to, performing household chores, personal hygiene, taking public transportation, or paying bills.
- Limitation in maintaining social functioning: This may include communicating appropriately with others, managing sustained relationships, and interacting independently with others.
- Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace: This may include finishing projects on time, keeping up a reasonable pace at work, and the ability to work with rheumatoid arthritis without excessive breaks.
- Document Medication Side Effects: Side effects from medication may enhance depression symptoms such as the inability to think clearly, concentrate, or remember things
- Have Your Doctor Fill Out a Depression Functional Capacity Form (RFC): At Ellis & Associates we take a substantial amount of time studying your medical record and creating a checklist form (called a “functional capacity” form) that translates medical findings into work limitations. We know which vocational factors carry the most weight with Judges in a particular hearing office. You will need to give this form to your doctor. Most caring physicians will agree to spend ten or fifteen minutes to complete a form that can dramatically better your life. If your doctor refuses to cooperate, you may want to think about finding a more cooperative doctor.