Q I have severe osteoarthritis that is affecting my ability to work. Will 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. The symptoms of osteoarthritis will depend on which joints are affected. Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness in the joints that make it difficult to move and to work.
Will You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
When you apply for Social Security disability, you will have to go through the disability evaluation process established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first five steps are the same for every applicant. The Social Security Administration will want to know if:
Your condition is on the Social Security Administration’s List of Impairments.
Your condition is severe and expected to last for 12 months or longer.
You are still working.
You cannot work at your current job and if you are able to do any other work that you have done in the past.
There is any other type of work that you can do, given your age, education, past experience, and physical limitations.
Depending on your answers to these questions and the body part that is affected by osteoarthritis, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability.
Osteoarthritis of the Spine
If you have osteoarthritis in your spine, you might qualify for disability benefits under the listing for Disorders of the Spine (Listing of Impairments Section 1.04). To receive Social Security disability 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 change position frequently.
You will need medical evidence of your condition and treatment plan if you apply for benefits pursuant to this listing, any other listing, or if you apply based on the severity of your condition.
Osteoarthritis in Other Parts of the Body
If your osteoarthritis affects a body part other than your spine, then you might be able to qualify for disability benefits under the category of Major Dysfunction of a Joint (Listing of Impairments Section 1.02). To be approved for Social Security disability 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. 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.
You Can Still Qualify for Social Security Disability If Your Osteoarthritis Doesn’t Meet the Blue Book Standards
If you do not meet the criteria for either of the blue book categories described above, you might still qualify for Social Security disability. You will need to prove that your osteoarthritis causes you to have reduced functional capacity that is equal in severity to one of the blue book standards and that makes you unable to work. The Social Security Administration will consider your physical limitations and determine the type of work you are capable of doing, if any.
Get the Help You Need Before You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
The majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. It is important to understand how you should apply, the documentation that you need to apply, and to submit your application correctly so that you can start getting the Social Security disability benefits that you deserve for osteoarthritis as soon as possible.
To learn more about your rights, please request a FREE copy of our book, The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, today. Additionally, we invite you to contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can help you get the fair benefits that you have earned.