I have arthritis, am 50, and have had to reduce my work hours. Can I get disability?

I have bad diagnosed arthritis in both shoulders arms and feet. I clean houses but sometimes the pain is just unbearable. I work alone and have been known to be in so much pain I just have to sit down and cry for a bit before i can finish my job. I'm down to working maybe 3 days a week, 5 hours a day so it has taken toll on finances. I am 50years old. Would I be considered to receive disability benefits?

Hi, I am sorry to hear about your condition and situation. With your age and pain issues, I would assume that you may have a case worth pursuing. Social Security focuses on functional limitations (meaning how your condition affects your ability to engage in everyday activities such as walking, sitting, lifting, standing, reaching, grasping, seeing, hearing, and even your ability to remember, concentrate, and comprehend) and the assessment of your limitations is made by evaluating the information in your medical records.

If your condition limits your ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income, you certainly have the potential to be approved. As of 2015, the SGA limit on how much a person can earn is one thousand and ninety dollars per month (the current earnings limit).

In other words, if you are unable to work and earn this amount of money each month as a result of the limitations caused by your medical condition, then you would satisfy Social Security's eligibility criteria.

Just keep in mind that if your earnings are more than this amount (which is subject to being revised annually), then you will receive what is known as a technical denial on your claim, meaning it will never actually be evaluated. If your earnings are currently under this limit (known as the SGA, or substantial gainful activity, limit), then you may wish to file a claim for disability.

So, to answer your question, it really starts with, in your case, how much you are currently earning. As I said, if your earnings are under the limit, consider contacting a Social Security office and getting a claim started. I wish you luck with your situation.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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