Arthritis Sufferers May Be Able to Benefit From Social Security DisabilityDo you suffer from arthritis? You are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 555,000 adults in Massachusetts, 89,000 in Rhode Island, and 115,000 adults in New Hampshire are limited in what they can do because of arthritis.

Arthritis is one reason that conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue are a common cause of disability. In 2015, 31.7 percent of disability recipients received monthly benefits for arthritis and other musculoskeletal system conditions such as osteoporosis, muscular dystrophy, and lupus.

Different Types of Arthritis

There are many different types of arthritis. You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits for any type of arthritis that prevents you from working. Some of the common types of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis is also called osteoarthrosis, or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that causes a joint's cartilage to break down. The bones then rub together and stiffness and pain result.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is also a chronic disease. This condition causes the joints' lining to become inflamed. Eventually, this disease can become disabling, as the joints become permanently damaged, lose their function, and become extremely painful.

  • Psoriatic Arthritis: People with a skin condition known as psoriasis are at risk for developing this form of arthritis. There are several different types of psoriatic arthritis—all of which can result in inflammation and pain and swelling of the joints.

Any of these conditions—or any other form of arthritis—may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits if you are unable to work because of your condition. When arthritis becomes severe, simple daily activities can become extremely difficult and trying to work may become impossible.

Can You Work?

Not everyone with arthritis is going to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. While you may be able to prove that you have arthritis, you are also going to have to prove that it meets the requirements in the Listing of Impairments or that it is severe enough to impact your ability to work.

Your doctor is the key to proving that your arthritis causes you to suffer a significant disability and that you are unable to work because of it. However, most doctors simply provide copies of medical records. These records contain a medical diagnosis followed by pages describing office visits. Details typically include information about your complaints, the amount of swelling or stiffness in the affected joint, your medications, whether your medications are working, and your doctor’s recommendations for follow-up care. While this medical evidence is important, it does not describe how your arthritis limits your ability to move about, care for yourself, and engage in the activities of daily life.

To fill in the gaps of information, you can ask your doctor to write a report about your functional limitations. For example, it might be beneficial to provide the Social Security Administration with answers to the following questions:

  • Are you able to drive?

  • How long can you sit?

  • Do you need to take regular breaks when standing or sitting?

  • How much can you lift?

  • Do you need help with self-care?

  • Does the pain from your arthritis prevent you from concentrating for long periods of time?

This type of report could make the difference between a denial and getting the Social Security disability benefits you need.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

You may qualify for benefits in different ways depending on the specific type of arthritis that you suffer and its impact on your ability to work. You could, for example, qualify under one of the specific Listings of Impairments, such as:

  • Listing 1.02: Joint Dysfunction.

  • Listing 1.03: Surgery of a Weight-Bearing Joint.

  • Listing 1.04: Disorders of the Spine.

  • Listing 14.09: Inflammatory Arthritis.

Alternatively, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you have a severe impairment that prevents you from working for 12 months or longer.

Get the Information That You Need Before You Apply for Benefits

Most initial applications for Social Security disability are denied. Accordingly, it is important to know how to fill out an application completely and accurately. You can get started by reading a FREE copy of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, or by contacting us directly to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer