Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that could affect any joint in your body, including your hands and wrists. When the cartilage between your joints slowly wears down, your bones will painfully rub together without any protective cushion.
When your joints rub together, you might experience stiffness, mild inflammation, or unbearable pain. Fortunately, most people with osteoarthritis are capable of functioning with minimal discomfort. However, in some cases, the pain could be severe enough to prevent someone from being able to do the daily tasks required for their job. If you are one of the unlucky ones, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or, if you have a limited work history and financial resources, Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is often overwhelming, confusing, and challenging. Over half of all claims are denied for a wide variety of reasons. The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to ensure that only eligible people receive benefits. Unfortunately, many people with qualifying disabilities make costly mistakes during the process. Our Fayetteville, AR disability lawyers are here to help you avoid those errors. Call (479) 316-0438 to discuss the steps you need to take to file a disability claim.
Qualifying for Disability Under SSA’s Blue Book
The Disability Evaluation Under Social Security is specifically published to give physicians and other medical professions a greater understanding of the disability process. Case specialists also use it to determine if a medical condition qualifies as a “disability.” Often referred to as the “Blue Book” because of its original color, this publication only appears online.
Osteoarthritis is not specifically listed under the SSA List of Impairments. However, the condition could be covered under Section 1.00, Musculoskeletal disorders. To meet the listed criteria, you must have a history of stiffness, joint pain, and limited movement. If your osteoarthritis makes it impossible to perform ordinary tasks with both hands, such as filing papers, typing on a computer keyboard, or manipulating small objects, you might qualify for disability benefits.
Being Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits for Osteoarthritis
The majority of disability claims filed in Arkansas are denied. Many applications based on osteoarthritis do not escape this fate. However, there are multiple steps you could take to improve your chances of success. In addition to what is listed below, you should allow our experienced Arkansas disability lawyers to handle your claim.
MRIs and Mobility Tests
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, making obtaining disability benefits challenging. Your diagnosis and medical documentation must support your claim that your osteoarthritis significantly impairs your ability to work. Your symptoms must hinder your activities daily. Some of the most compelling evidence you could provide to the SSA are up-to-date medical scans and tests.
For example, MRIs are crucial for demonstrating how severe your osteoarthritis is in your joints or spine. Additionally, mobility tests are useful to measure the limited movement of the affected areas. The more medical documentation you have that corroborates the alleged seriousness of your condition, the more likely it is you will receive disability benefits.
Use the Blue Book
As stated above, the Social Security Administration’s List of Impairments does not specifically include osteoarthritis. However, the Blue Book remains a useful tool that you and our Arkansas disability attorney could use to piece together your supporting evidence.
The Blue Book lists a wide range of symptoms that cover specific medical conditions. It is possible to have symptoms that qualify under other conditions. For example, Section 1.02 covers musculoskeletal disorders and dysfunctions of an individual’s joint. Under this section, joint dysfunction is defined as a gross anatomical deformity, chronic joint pain, and stiffness that results in limitation of movement. To qualify under this listing, your osteoarthritis would have to meet one of the following two requirements.
- Your ability to walk or move effectively must be compromised due to the osteoarthritis impact of a weight-bearing joint.
- Your ability to perform specific movements effectively must be impaired because of the inability to use an upper extremity, such as a wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
In other cases, if your osteoarthritis required a surgical joint replacement, you could qualify for benefits under Section 1.03, Reconstructive Surgery or Surgical Arthrodesis.
List All Current and Previous Medical Treatment
There are many different treatment options for a condition such as osteoarthritis, depending on the severity of your case. If the Social Security Administration believes there are effective treatments that you have not considered, your disability claim will likely be denied. It is crucial to demonstrate that you are taking all reasonable steps to treat your condition. By compiling a list of all your current and previous treatments, especially those that failed, you can demonstrate that your osteoarthritis continues to adversely impact your life despite all your attempts to treat the disorder.
Complete a Residual Functioning Capacity (RFC) Test
In addition to the medical documentation you provide the SSA, you should have your doctor complete an RFC form. The RFC test measures your physical capabilities in a wide variety of areas, including grasping, lifting, stamina, and the ability to sit or stand. The RFC breaks your condition down into how it impairs your ability to perform ordinary tasks necessary for your work. A low RFC score indicates an inability to function at a normal level.
Our Arkansas Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyers Provide Experienced Legal Help
Osteoarthritis could be debilitating. If your arthritis is severe enough to prevent you from working, you could qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. However, the process is challenging and often frustrating. Our Springdale disability lawyers understand the difficulties in obtaining an approval from the Social Security Administration – especially for a common condition such as osteoarthritis. With over 20 years of experience, our team of attorneys and staff will help you fight for the monthly benefits you deserve. For a free appointment, call (479) 316-0438.
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