Applying For Disability With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that commonly starts in the joints of the hands and feet, but may also affect the knees, hips and shoulders. This autoimmune disease causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack the joints. RA affects the lining of the joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. Sudden increases in symptoms and illness are called flares. A flare can last for days or months.
Some symptoms include:
- Swollen joints
- Rheumatoid nodules (firm lumps located under the skin)
- Fever and weight loss
Following an application submitted due to rheumatoid arthritis, Social Security will evaluate the case to determine if the claimant meets or equals a listing. A listing is a set of criteria specific to a condition that, if satisfied, would automatically qualify a claimant for disability benefits. Listing 14.09 is the listing specific to inflammatory arthritis.
14.09 Inflammatory arthritis.
A. Persistent inflammation or persistent deformity of:
1. One or more major peripheral weight-bearing joints resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively (as defined in 14.00C6); or
2. One or more major peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively (as defined in 14.00C7).
B. Inflammation or deformity in one or more major peripheral joints with:
1. Involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity; and
2. At least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss).
C. Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies, with:
1. Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 45° or more of flexion from the vertical position (zero degrees); or
2. Ankylosis (fixation) of the dorsolumbar or cervical spine as shown by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and measured on physical examination at 30° or more of flexion (but less than 45°) measured from the vertical position (zero degrees), and involvement of two or more organs/body systems with one of the organs/body systems involved to at least a moderate level of severity.
D. Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis, with at least two of the constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss) and one of the following at the marked level:
1. Limitation of activities of daily living.
2. Limitation in maintaining social functioning.
3. Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
If you do not meet or equal the above listings, you can still qualify for disability benefits if the impairment prevents you from doing your past relevant work or other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.