Topic Categories:

Social Security Disability Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Overview

The Requirements for Disability

Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial

Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits offered through Social Security

Benefits through SSI disability

Disability Benefits for Children

Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify

Social Security Disability and Working

Winning your Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits

Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

SSDRC authored by

Ask a question, get an answer

Facts about Rheumatoid Arthritis and Filing for Disability

1. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints of the hands and feet, causing pain and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disorder and an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders cause the body's immune system to attack healthy tissue along with harmful cells.

2. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that typically develops in middle age, between 40 and 60. There is no cure, but a variety of treatment options are available.

3. Rheumatoid arthritis is also more common in women, who are at least twice, maybe even three times, as likely to develop the condition than men.

4. Primary symptoms of the condition include pain, swelling and tenderness in joints. Fatigue, stiffness, fever and weight loss are also all possible symptoms that add to the debilitating nature of the condition.

5. The lining of joints are damaged in rheumatoid arthritis, causing breakdown of cartilage and bone. Eventually the joint will lose its shape and become permanently deformed.

6. Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins in the small joints and progresses to much larger joints such as the shoulders, hips, neck and even jaw. The condition is also typically symmetrical in occurrence of symptoms.

7. This condition often occurs in periods of flares and remission, where symptoms may flare up in severity and then decrease to very minimal discomfort.

8. While it is known that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder caused by the destruction of the lining of joints, it is not known why this occurs. Certain genes may cause a predisposition for other conditions that are thought to trigger the disease, like particular infections.

9. A variety of treatment options exist for rheumatoid arthritis, ranging from pain killers to suppressing the immune system to total joint replacement surgery. Some prescription drugs, like disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, cause serious side effects include liver damage and severe lung infection.

10. Typically, medications with the least harmful side effects are used first, then as the disease progresses more drastic measures are taken to control symptoms and attempt to prevent complications.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria