Arthritis and Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration offers two different disability programs for individuals who are unable to work due to disabling conditions. These programs include the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI). To qualify for either program, you must meet the SSA’s medical criteria as well as the financial criteria of the specific program you are applying for.

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits

To financially qualify for SSDI benefits you must have earned enough work credits through prior work history. A work credit is a metric that the SSA uses to determine how much taxable income someone has paid into the SSDI fund. Younger applicants can qualify with fewer work credits. The exact number of work credits needed depends up on the applicant’s age.

Qualifying for SSI Benefits

The SSI program is a needs-based program and no work credits are needed in order to qualify for benefits. You must, however, meet the asset and income criteria that has been set forth by the SSA. As of 2015, this means your household income cannot exceed $733 per month as an individual or $1,100 per month as a couple. In addition, your household assets cannot exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.

Meeting the SSA’s Medical Criteria

When applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, the SSA will compare your condition to a listing of conditions that have been included in a publication known as the Blue Book. This Blue Book contains a listing of all of the disabling conditions that could possibly qualify an individual for SSDI or SSI benefits, along with the criteria that must be met with each specific condition.

Arthritis is covered in Sections 1.02, 1.04, and 14.09 of the Blue Book. According to Section 1.02 of the Blue Book, you can qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits if you can prove that your joint issue causes a great amount of pain, stiffness, and lack of movement.

According to the Blue Book, to qualify under Section 1.04 of the Blue Book, which covers disorders of the spine, you must be able to prove that you have severe spine pain, pinched nerves, and that you are unable to walk normally or hold your legs upright.

Section 14.09 of the Blue Book covers inflammatory arthritis. According to this section of the Blue Book, in order to qualify for benefits you must be able to prove that your arthritis makes it challenging to walk and preform fine-motor tasks such as writing or cooking. Additionally, people with inflammatory arthritis can qualify if their arthritis affects other organs in their body.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

You can apply for disability benefits online or in person at your local Social Security office. When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you will be asked to fill out a number of forms. It is important to fill out each form in its entirety and that you provide as much detail as possible in your answers. Your answers will help the SSA understand how your condition prevents you from performing any type of work activity.

You may also be asked to attend a consultative exam. The purpose of such an exam is to determine how severe your disability is. The SSA will schedule and pay for this exam. It is very important to attend any exams that may be scheduled for you.

If you are denied benefits, there is a thorough appeals process available. With thorough medical records and careful filing, you will hopefully be approved after initially applying.


Guest Article provided by: Deanna Power, Community Outreach Manager (Social Security Disability Help)

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