Can you win disability benefits if you have RA, rheumatoid arthritis?
Potentially, any condition can qualify for SSI or SSD. That's includes RA (rheumatoid arthritis), or any other condition potentially. It's not the diagnosis that's the issue, but, rather, whether or not the condition is severe enough to rule out the ability to engage in work activity at what the social security administration refers to as a substantial and gainful level.
This is why social security gathers information about your medical history but also information concerning your past work history. Disability examiners (and judges in cases where the claim has advanced to the hearing level) evaluate both areas, work and medical histories, to determine whether or not a claimant can go back to one of the jobs they performed in the past.
For many applicants, the information available to the decision-maker will lead them to conclude that the individual cannot go back to their past work because their current functional limitations, which can be physical, mental, or both (for example, impaired ability to concentrate, remember, hear, see, lift objects above a certain weight, sit or stand beyond a certain length of time, etc), will simply not allow a return to their past work.
However, even if a claimant is "taken out of past work", they may still be found able to switch to some type of other work, work that social security finds reasonable for the claimant to transition to based on their age, education, job skills, and, of course, rated functional limitations.
So, to answer the question, yes, you can get SSI or Social Security Disability for RA. But you can potentially receive ongoing benefits for any condition as long as the information available to the decision-maker indicates:
1) The claimant's condition is severe.
2) The claimant's condition is severe enough to prevent a return to their past work, while earning at least the substantial gainful activity amount that is currently in effect.
3) The claimant's condition is severe enough to prevent a switch to some form of other work, while earning at least the substantial gainful activity amount that is currently in effect.
4) That the claimant's condition, as described in 1-3, will exist for at least 12 months.
Here is a page that discusses how the SSA disability blue book listings consider rheumatoid arthritis.
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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