Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that can cause extreme pain and even loss of mobility. The disease tends to worsen with age, though people of all ages are affected. If you have arthritis and are no longer able to perform at work, you may be wondering if you can collect disability insurance.
In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of arthritis, disability benefits, and your rights as an American worker as we answer some of the questions most frequently asked by arthritis sufferers.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints.” There are several types of arthritis, and we’ll look a little more closely at the two most common here.
First, osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) is a condition which causes bone cartilage to break down. This cartilage, in a healthy individual, protects and cushions the ends of your bones. As you may imagine, the wearing down of this cartilage causes severe irritation and pain.
The second common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune response; an individual’s immune system attacks bodily tissue. While most rheumatoid arthritis patients experience the most severe effects in the joints, it’s also possible for internal organs to be impacted.
Obviously, arthritis sufferers should seek medical attention and formulate a course of treatment with a licensed physician. There is no cure for or reversal of arthritis, but symptoms can be lessened and pain mitigated with proper care and attention.
While treating arthritis, it may be difficult or impossible to perform everyday activities without severe pain, including workplace duties. Therefore, if you suffer from arthritis, you may be wondering if you can be compensated with disability.
Can I be compensated for arthritis and disability?
The short answer to this common question is yes. In some cases, you may qualify for disability insurance if you have been diagnosed with arthritis. However, your eligibility may vary based on a number of factors.
To begin, the type of arthritis from which you suffer may impact whether your claim is approved or denied. Furthermore, the area of your body that is impacted may be weighed by an administrative judge during a hearing.
For instance, if you suffer from arthritis of major joints such as your knees or hips, you may automatically qualify for disability insurance. If your arthritis does not impede your day to day activities, you may possibly be denied coverage.
Secondly, your ability to work will certainly impact your eligibility. Disability insurance is in place to provide financial support to those who are unable to earn an income. At present, claimants earning $1,220 or more each month are ineligible for compensation. This may change from year to year, so check with your local SSA (Social Security Administration) office to verify current income limits.
A third factor that may impact your eligibility is your documentation of medical diagnosis and treatment. In other words, you must provide proof of your disability due to arthritis. If you’re unsure of what records you’ll need to furnish during a hearing, contact a qualified attorney.
These certainly are not the only indicators of your eligibility for disability. Each case is unique, and your legal team can assist you in determining whether you have a case.
How do I file for disability with arthritis?
If your doctor has determined that it’s not safe for you to return to work due to arthritis, contact the Social Security Administration immediately to file for disability. You can apply for benefits online, over the phone, or at your local SSA office.
When filling out the application for disability, you’ll need to provide information regarding the nature of your disability, how long you’ve been suffering from your condition, and employer information. You’ll then submit the form to your local SSA office and wait to hear a determination from the organization.
In many instances, disability claims are denied on the “first try.” You have a right to appeal the decision, but the appeal must be filed within sixty days of the determination. You will receive a letter from SSA with instructions on how to appeal, but an experienced attorney can better help you with the process.
How long will it take to receive benefits, once approved?
If you’re in immediate need of funds after following your disability claim, you may be disappointed. It typically takes three to five months to hear back from SSA regarding a decision about your disability benefits.
It’s a good idea to speak with a qualified disability attorney before beginning the application process. He or she can help you determine the most beneficial way to fill out the application. More importantly, however, your attorney can help you gather the documentation you’ll need to provide to the Social Security Administration.
While SSA makes their determination, you may be required to undergo examinations or medical testing. Before doing so, speak with your attorney. Consultative exams are conducted by third party groups. Participating in these exams is generally to your benefit, but your attorney can help guide you through the process.
In addition to the typical administrative process, the particulars of your case can affect the length of time between filing a claim and receiving payment. Cooperate closely with the SSA and furnish the information they request in a timely manner; doing so will help to expedite the process.
How long do my disability benefits last?
If you’re approved for disability benefits, you will receive them as long as you need them. There are three types of determinations in a disability case: Medical Improvement Expected, Medical Improvement Possible, and Medical Improvement Not Expected.
Once your benefits are approved, speak with your attorney about the particulars of your determination; he or she can walk you through how long your benefits will likely last.
What happens if my disability claim is denied?
Arthritis is the most commonly approved disability by the SSA. With that said, however, most cases are denied upon application. If this happens, you have the right to file an appeal.
There are four levels of disability benefit appeals. The first of these is reconsideration. You have the right to ask SSA to reconsider your case. A party who was not involved in the initial decision will review your case and reconsider you for benefits.
Secondly, your case may be presented during a hearing. Your hearing will be held in front of an administrative law judge who, again, was not involved in the first determination of your case.
Thirdly, your case may undergo an Appeals Council review. Your request may be denied, but if approved your case will be either determined by the Appeals Council or sent to a judge.
Finally, you may choose to sue in a federal district court if you disagree with the decisions that have been made regarding your arthritis disability case. It. Is strongly recommended that you hire qualified and experienced counsel should you choose this course of action.
Am I guaranteed to receive disability benefits?
No. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of your disability case. If you’re interviewing an attorney and he or she promises a positive outcome, seek different counsel.
Each and every disability case is unique; while you may be approved for benefits, your neighbor with a similar condition may be denied. For the best possible outcome in your disability claim or appeal, contact an attorney who specializes in disability claims.
If you have arthritis and are unable to work, contact the office of Morgan & Morgan. Our legal team is ready and waiting to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today or fill out our contact form to start the process of scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation.