SSDI for Arthritis Arthritis affects more than 50 million adults in America. It is the leading cause of disability in the country. Common symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. While some people may be able to cope with milder cases, more severe cases of arthritis can be debilitating. It can prevent people from working. If this applies to you, you qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Talk to a Social Security disability lawyer for advice on your application. 

Kinds of Arthritis That May Qualify for SSDI

There are over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. Arthritis is a general term for joint pain or joint disease. It may be caused by old age, obesity, infections, or bone fractures. You may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if your arthritis stops you from working. This could be due to limited mobility or severe pain. 

The various types of arthritis that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes includes the following.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Like arthritis in general, inflammatory arthritis is also a more general term. The affected area can get swollen and hot and it can be quite painful. It can also lead to deformities in the joints. Commonly affected areas include the knees, ankles, elbows, and shoulders. Some people with inflammatory arthritis are unable to work as a result since it can cause difficulties with sitting, walking, or lifting objects. 

Sometimes, inflammatory arthritis co-occurs with other conditions. These include Reiter’s syndrome, Whipple’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Lyme disease, among others. When applying for SSDI, it can help your case to mention what other conditions you have. The SSA considers the sum effect of health conditions when reviewing your application.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

One of the most common types of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It is an auto-immune disorder. This chronic disease inflames the lining of your joints. Over time, the ligaments and bones become damaged. As a result, you can feel pain and stiffness in your joints. These symptoms may stop you from continuing to work. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. 

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is also known as axial spondyloarthritis. It is an inflammatory disease. Over time, some bones in the spine may fuse together causing reduced flexibility. People with this condition have a hunched posture. If it affects the ribs, patients may have trouble breathing too. Taken together, movement can be severely limited. It can lead to pain, stiffness, swelling, and fatigue.  

Spinal Arthritis

Even if spinal bones don’t fuse together, you can still have spinal arthritis. Swelling and stiffness in the spine can severely limit movement. The swelling can also affect nerve roots along the spine. As expected, spinal arthritis can lead to bad back pain. You may qualify for disability if you have arthritis of the spine. 

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by itchy, scaly patches. The chronic condition has no cure. It can be painful, making it difficult to move. Some people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. The scaly patches may cause joint swelling. This form of arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis and  tends to affect the joints of the fingers, hands, toes, and feet. 


Often related to age, osteoarthritis is caused by the breaking down of ligaments and cartilage. With this loss of soft tissue, bones rub together and can cause significant pain. It can become much more difficult to move and perform daily activities. Osteoarthritis can qualify for disability if it stops you from working. Like other conditions on this list, it is also chronic. 


Another form of arthritis is gout which typically causes flare-ups in the toes and feet. The painful condition can make it difficult to stand or walk. It is caused by excess uric acid that the body is unable to remove. This leads to uric acid crystals in the joints. The crystals multiply, further increasing pain and reducing mobility. Stiff joints swell and redden. Gout can spread to other joints, like ankles, knees, and wrists. Not all cases of gout will qualify for SSDI. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can better assess your specific case. 

Demonstrating Why Arthritis Can Be Disabling

A simple diagnosis often isn’t enough to qualify for disability benefits. The SSA outlines specific criteria. This includes certain requirements for qualifying types of arthritis. For example, you may need to have persistent inflammation or deformity in at least one major arm or leg joint. You may need to use a mobility device or be unable to do work-related activities. They may also consider cases where two or more organs are affected. Major joint surgery could be another factor. 

The main criterion is determining the severity of your condition. It must impair your ability to function to the point that you are physically unable to work. And you must be unable to work for at least a year. For this, you may need to prove your level of disability. Can you sit, stand, lift, walk, crouch, and grasp objects? Medical reports and testing can better justify your position. 

Why You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney

The majority of SSDI applications are denied. Sometimes, it is because applicants don’t qualify. Other times, they may lack enough proper documentation. When you work with a skilled Social Security disability attorney, you have a better chance at approval. At Keefe Disability Law, we have years of experience with SSDI applications. We can ensure you submit the needed forms and other supporting material. 

Our experienced lawyers can work with your employer, doctor, and other parties to compile a complete application. If your initial application is denied, we will work with you to file an appeal. The reconsideration process can be complex so we are here to advise you, every step of the way. We can represent you at hearings and answer any questions you may have. 

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