Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the membranes surrounding their joints, causing them to inflame. Although RA can affect anyone, it’s most common in women, people between the ages of 40-60, smokers, and those who have a family history of RA. The SSA sets forth specific criteria for disability applicants with rheumatoid arthritis in its Listing of Impairments. To qualify for benefits under the listing for RA, you must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Your RA is present in a joint in your legs, causing you significant difficulties in walking (for example, needing to use two canes, a walker, or a wheelchair).
- Your RA affects joints in both of your arms, preventing you from performing many types of tasks with your arms (involving both large muscle movements and small manipulations).
- You have inflammation or a permanent deformity in one or more major joints, along with moderate involvement of at least two more organs or body systems, causing at least two symptoms out of these four: severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and/or involuntary weight loss.
- You have ankylosing spondylitis or another spondyloarthropathy, with fixation of your spine of at least 45 degrees.
- You have ankylosing spondylitis or another spondyloarthropathy with fixation of your spine of at least 30 degrees, along with moderate involvement of at least two or more body systems, or
- You suffer repeated flare-ups of your RA with at least two of symptoms (such as fever, extreme fatigue, malaise, or weight loss) that cause limitations in your activities of daily living, social functioning, or ability to complete tasks.
If in fact you or someone you care for are struggling with arthritis to the point where your/their ability to work has been compromised, contact Ellis & Associates at 1-800-Mr. Ellis for advice as to whether Social Security disability benefits may be an appropriate resource to pursue.