Under federal law, Social Security is supposed to provide you with disability benefits when your condition leaves you unable to work. Rheumatoid arthritis is an example of a debilitating condition that can keep you from doing any type of job.
While it may seem simple in theory, the Social Security Administration may make it much harder in practice to get disability for RA. Therefore, you may need an attorney to make the most effective case for you to receive benefits. The experienced Social Security disability attorneys at Denton & Zachary in Arkansas know how to deal with the SSA claims and appeals process on behalf of clients dealing with rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes painful swelling in the lining of the joints. An autoimmune disease is when your immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy parts of your body. The condition can also impact other parts of your body. Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable condition that can be degenerative.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects up to 1 percent of the population. It generally develops in the prime of someone’s working years, as its age of onset is between 30-50 years old.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
This autoimmune condition can be extremely debilitating. Not only can it take away your quality of life, but it can leave you unable to work. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are often in pain.
Here are some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:
- Pain and stiffness in more than one joint
- Tenderness and swelling
- Overall weakness
- Weight loss
Rheumatoid arthritis can flare up without notice, meaning that the symptoms can vary in severity. Even when someone can go to work, they may never know when they may need to miss time or will be unable to perform their job because of an onset of symptoms.
You Can Qualify for Disability Benefits with Rheumatoid Arthritis
The SSA’s Blue Book lists qualifying disabilities, and rheumatoid arthritis is one of them. The SSA gives a number of criteria for the condition to make you eligible. The SSA will look at both the physical impairments and the presence of other symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on its own, does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits. Like any disability case, you will need to show your inability to work. Your symptoms will need to leave you with an inability to do basic work functions. You will generally be unable to sit or stand for an extended period of time on account of your condition or do physical work, such as lifting. Many people will stop working within ten years after their rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis because they are no longer able to.
The SSA often takes a hard line when people apply for disability benefits for rheumatoid arthritis. They will need to see that your condition is quite severe. The claims evaluator will look closely at your medical records to determine the severity of your condition. There is a definite chance that your claim can be denied, and you will be forced to appeal your case.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Here are the steps that you will need to follow to apply for disability benefits:
- Receive treatment from a medical provider and get a diagnosis of your disability.
- Gather the necessary and relevant documentation about your condition and your work history (and your eligibility for disability).
- Complete the application form online, including the necessary documentation that will qualify you for benefits (you can also file your claim by mail).
Then, you will need to wait approximately three to five months for the SSA to evaluate your claim and get back to you with a decision. Do not be surprised if your benefits are not granted at first, especially with a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, where your symptoms can be “subjective.”
Why You May Need an Experienced Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability Lawyer
The SSA is notoriously difficult when it comes to approving claims. Roughly about 30 percent of initial disability claims are actually approved. The rest of the applicants are forced to decide whether they need to appeal to receive their benefits.
Our lawyers can do the following for you:
- Evaluate your situation and figure out the best way to present your initial claim to the SSA
- Ensure that your paperwork is correct and thorough
- Take your case through the appeals process, beginning with your request for reconsideration, if your claim is denied
- Counsel you during the process, answering your questions and providing as much information as possible about something that may not be transparent
You should consider hiring an attorney to help you with the claim, as opposed to calling a lawyer after your claim has been denied. Presenting an effective claim can reduce your chances of having to go through a lengthy appeals process.
Contact a Little Rock Social Security Disability Attorney Today
The attorneys at Denton & Zachary can make a strong case on your behalf when you are disabled and unable to work. We know the system and the roadblocks that the SSA may throw up in your way. We also know how to deal with them on your behalf. You can schedule a free consultation to speak with one of our attorneys. You can send us a message online or call us today at (501) 273-1695.
What is the first step that I need to take if my claim is denied?
You should call an experienced lawyer today. SSA requires that you make a request for reconsideration as the first step of your appeals process.
How far can I take my SSA disability benefits appeal?
You can go into federal court if the SSA’s appeals process does not result in your claim being approved.
Do I need an SSA disability attorney?
The Social Security Administration is a prime example of a government agency that is supposed to help but can make your life harder. They can be very difficult to deal with during the process.