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Does Arthritis Make Me Eligible for Social Security Benefits?

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the United States. The two most common forms are osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear on a person’s joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks joint lining and cartilage.

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Though treatments can differ for the different types of arthritis, the common symptoms are:

  1. joint pain or constant aches
  2. swelling
  3. joint stiffness
  4. inability to use hands or walk easily
  5. feeling tired or unable to move
  6. fever
  7. weight loss
  8. trouble sleeping
  9. muscle aches and pains
  10. tenderness
  11. difficulty moving joints

Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other organs. Since arthritis in its later stages can make movement very painful, it is often accompanied by other diseases, such as obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and depression.

While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms, there are many others that can cause joint pain and damage, including psoriatic arthritis, osteomyelitis, gout, systematic lupus (discussed in another post), and osteonecrosis. Because arthritis is included in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments, the severity of your arthritis will most likely determine whether or not you are found to be disabled.

Improving Your Chances For Obtaining Benefits

It is especially important for you to:

  1. Keep a detailed medical history, including a calendar of notes about how you feel each day.
  2. Record any usual activities you could not do on any given day.
  3. Keep a detailed history of your current and past medications.
  4. See a doctor regularly and take the medication that he/she gives you so that your doctor can support your application for benefits.
  5. If possible, see a specialist, such as a rheumatologist or someone experienced in dealing with arthritis patients.
  6. Ask your doctor or other health care professional to track the course of your symptoms and to keep a record of any evidence of fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, dizziness, or other hard-to-document symptoms.
  7. Keep records of how your illness affected you on the job.

Helpful Links

You can find more information about arthritis and Social Security at the following links:

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