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Arthritis is a general term that refers to an array of joint pains and diseases. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions, and over 50 million Americans suffer from it every day, according to the non-profit Arthritis Foundation.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are what people commonly think of when they think of arthritis. It’s a painful condition that many workers deal with every day, whether they are enjoying their current jobs or are job hunting.

How Does Arthritis Affect You and Impact Your Life?

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, according to the Foundation. This is when the cartilage at the end of your bones wears away and normal everyday motion causes bone to rub against bone.

This in turn causes inflammation, swelling, and pain that can become chronic and quite debilitating. Simple, everyday tasks such as walking or tying your shoes become painful activities that slow you down and reduce your quality of life.

In many cases, your pain can be managed and you can live a semi-normal life. Often, however, arthritis pain can be so severe it limits your day-to-day activities both in and out of work.

What Are Your Rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (and the subsequent ADA Amendments Act of 2008) forbid an employer from discriminating against a person with disabilities. The law says that employers may not base their hiring decision on your disability (provided you can adequately perform the job) or fire you because if it, among other protections.

The ADA also requires your employer to provide “reasonable accommodation” for your disability to aid you in doing your job. Although there is no single, solitary example of a reasonable accommodation, generally it is something that can help you do your job that doesn’t cost the employer so much it has an undue hardship on the business.

How Does the ADA Affect Employees with Arthritis?

A potential employer is not allowed to ask you about your arthritis or how severe it is during the interview process. Once you are hired, you are entitled to reasonable accommodation to do your job effectively.

Reasonable accommodations include but are not limited to:

  • Sufficient time off for medical treatment and rest;
  • On-site accommodations, such as making your work area accessible and locating * work area near entries, exits, and restrooms;
  • Longer breaks to ease pain and discomfort;
  • More comfortable desks, chairs, and other office equipment; and/or
  • Delegation of strenuous work activities to more capable employees.

Note that in order to have a claim, you might need to provide documentation to your employer that proves you have been properly diagnosed with arthritis by your doctor.

If I Can’t Work, Will I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Sometimes your arthritis can be so debilitating that you are simply unable to work. In this case, you might qualify for Social Security disability. There are specific criteria that Social Security Administration uses to assess if someone qualifies for disability benefits.

First, you must have worked and contributed to Social Security in the past. If that requirement is met, the SSA uses the answers to the following questions to determine your eligibility:

Are you working?

If you’ve worked in 2018 and earned more than $1,180/month, generally you won’t qualify.

Is your condition severe?

Your condition must interfere with your ability to perform normal work duties.

Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

Arthritis qualifies. Basically, anything wrong with your joints that causes pain so severe it limits or prevents normal activities is considered a disabling condition.

Can you do the work you did previously?

If the answer is no, you’re considered disabled.

Can you do any other form of work?

If the answer is no, you’re considered disabled.

How We Help Workers Whose Rights Were Violated

There are laws that protect workers with arthritis, allowing them to be free from discrimination in the workplace and collect Social Security Disability benefits if they are eligible. An arthritis lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can help you pursue compensation and fight for your rights. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free, no-risk consultation.

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