If I’ve been Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Can I get Disability Benefits?

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As we age, our bodies begin to show signs of the daily wear and tear they have withstood for decades. Working day-in and day-out takes a toll on us. Raising children, taking care of the day-to-day tasks of daily living and more all take their slow toll on our knees, shoulders, elbows, and nearly every part of our body. As the disease – like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — progresses, we may be able to continue working through the pain, discomfort and other limitations for a time. But eventually the arthritis condition alone or along with any other additional impairments makes working a full-time job impossible. Many worry that they will not be able to survive once they stop work, but the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program can provide cash benefits to those who have stopped work due to a serious impairment.

Ken Kieklak works with hardworking people of all different backgrounds and professions throughout all of northwest Arkansas. from our Fayetteville office, we serve those in Bentonville, Rogers, Bella Vista, Springdale, and more. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Social Security lawyer in Fayetteville, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 251-7767.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis and How Does it Develop?

As most people know, arthritis is a condition that affects the joints in the body. When a person has arthritis, his or her joints become inflamed. This can make walking, lifting, stooping and many other types of movement physically impossible or cause excruciating pain. When someone says they have rheumatoid arthritis that simply means that arthritis’ effects are symmetrical in the affected individual’s body. Therefore, those with rheumatoid arthritis will report experiencing pain in both the right and left knee, both elbows, ankles and so on. In short, what sets this type of arthritis apart from others is that the pain is on both sides of the body.

Approximately 1 percent of Americans suffer from RA with women being two to three times more likely to develop the condition. Doctors do not currently know what causes RA, but they do know that the condition occurs in individuals where the immune system is having an irregular response. Some theories assert that a bacteria or virus may alter the immune system in ways that prevent it from recognizing certain types of bodily cells. Others hypothesize that there may be a link between smoking and the development of the condition. Researchers believe that certain genetic markers may indicate a heightened risk for the condition.

When Can I Qualify for SSD with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Northwest Arkansas?

People can qualify for SSDI benefits when they can meet the non-medical requirements and the medical program requirements set forth by the SSA. For the nonmedical requirements, the individual must not exceed income limits, known as substantial gainful income (SGA). Furthermore, because the SSDI program functions like an insurance program for workers, the individual must have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits.

As for the medical requirements, those who can qualify must have a severe impairment or a combination of conditions. Furthermore, the condition must persist or be expected to last for at least one year or result in the death of the applicant.

There are multiple paths that an applicant can travel to receive a benefits award. For certain applicants with a particularly severe condition, they may qualify for benefits earlier in the process. This occurs if the applicant can prove that he or she has a condition or disease that is so serious that it has been designated a Listed Condition by the SSA. While rheumatoid arthritis is not given its own dedicated Listing, it is covered by the Listing 14.09 addressing inflammatory arthritis conditions. If an applicant can provide ample evidence that they have a severe rheumatoid arthritis condition, they can qualify on a medical basis alone.

If you cannot qualify medically, you may still qualify for a medical-vocational allowance. A medical vocation allowance assesses the type of things that you can still do despite your severe impairment. This makes-up what is known as your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC will be applied to determine whether you can perform past work. If past work cannot be performed due to your limitations, the SSA will determine if there is alternate work that can be performed. If neither past work nor alternate work can be performed, the individual will qualify for benefits.

Disability Lawyer in Fayetteville, AR

Ken Kieklak is dedicated to assisting hard-working individuals who have had to stop work due to a severe injury, illness, or other impairment. To discuss how the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak can help in your SSDI benefits claim or appeal, call us at (479) 251-7767 or contact us online today.

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