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The Disabling Nature of Arthritis for Pennsylvania Residents Applying for Social Security

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of arthritis is growing throughout the nation. Arthritis includes many diseases and conditions that affect our joints and tissues surrounding our joints and other connective tissue. Many individuals suffering from arthritis experience stiffness and pain around their joints. Sometimes these symptoms come on suddenly, and in other cases they develop over time.

Arthritis can be a debilitating condition, impairing an individual’s ability to perform work. Social Security Disability benefits are available to people who are unable to perform full-time work on a predictable and consistent basis. The disease is medically listed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA performs several steps to determine eligibility for disability.

If you are not currently working, and your arthritis will last at least 12 months, it may be a “severe” impairment, having a significant impact on your ability to perform work-related activities. For example, when arthritis requires an individual to lie down for an extended period of time or prevents them from being able to hold a pen, this is likely to be seen as a functional limitation.

Next, the Social Security Administration will determine whether your arthritis meets specific medical listings. There are four separate listings, including joint dysfunction, surgery on a weight-bearing joint, disorders of the spine, and inflammatory arthritis. If your arthritis does not meet an official impairment listing set forth by the Social Security Administration, you may still be able to establish that you are eligible for disability benefits.

If an individual is not deemed medically qualified for Social Security Disability, based on symptoms that can be observed or that meet a listing, the Administration will look at whether they can perform work they may have performed in the past. They may assess whether an individual can perform sedentary work. This would require lifting a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, as well as being able to sit six hours and occasionally stand and walk.

If sedentary work cannot be performed, factors such as the individual’s age, level of education, previous work experience, and overall mental and physical health will be considered to determine whether training could lead to another type of available work. If it is demonstrated that a person can complete his past work, benefits will be denied.

Individuals may ask their doctors to complete a Residual Functional Capacity form, which will detail the impact of their limitations as a result of arthritis. For example, people with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may suffer from pain, persistent swelling, and joint limitations. Those who suffer from degenerative arthritis endure significant limitations of their arms or hands and problems standing and walking. If an individual is unable to sit for over four hours, this would likely lead to approval.

For all medical claims, functional limitations must be shown through detailed medical records. Doctors and witnesses can offer their opinions regarding the use of hands or arms and legs to stand and walk. Letters of observation can provide detailed information about the effects of arthritis upon an individual’s ability to work.

Some individuals suffering from arthritis secure Social Security Disability during a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this hearing, they can be represented by an attorney, if they choose, and make their case for why their arthritic condition prevents them from being able to work.

If arthritis has affected your ability to perform work, you may qualify for Social Security benefits.  The skilled Pennsylvania attorneys at Needle Law represent individuals seeking Social Security benefits. Discuss your claim with an experienced attorney by calling 570-344-1266.  We provide a free, confidential consultation.

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