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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
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I have severe osteoarthritis that is affecting my ability to work. Under what Social Security Administration category would I qualify for Social Security disability?


Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, is a painful joint disorder that often occurs as people age and the cartilage that protects the bone begins to wear down. Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness in the joints that makes it difficult to move. The symptoms of osteoarthritis will depend on which joints are affected.

If you have osteoarthritis in your spine, you might qualify for disability benefits under the listing for back problems. To receive SSI or SSDI for osteoarthritis of the spine, the disorder must be diagnosed by a doctor and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Compression of the spinal nerve root that limits your ability to move your spine
  • A narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back that makes it very difficult to walk
  • Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane that requires you to frequently change position

If your osteoarthritis affects a body part other than your spine, you might be able to qualify for disability benefits under the category of joint dysfunction. To be approved for SSI/SSDI under this category, you must have an obvious joint deformity or bone destruction. You must have a documented history of pain and stiffness in the joint as well as lack of motion, and the osteoarthritis must affect a hip, a knee, or an ankle joint, or a hand, a wrist, an elbow, or a shoulder in each arm, making it difficult for you to complete everyday tasks.

If you don’t meet the criteria for either of the previously listed categories, you might qualify for Social Security Disability under the category of reduced functional capacity. The Social Security Administration will consider your physical limitations and determine the type of work you are capable of doing, if any.

Do you have additional questions about your Social Security disability claim? Request a free copy of Boston disability attorney John Keefe’s book The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. If you would like to discuss your claim with a Social Security disability attorney, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

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