Can I Work with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Collect Social Security Disability?

January 26, 2021
Dayes Law Firm

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides monthly disability benefits to those who cannot work due to a disabling condition that lasts for a year or more.

Below, we discuss how the SSA considers rheumatoid arthritis as a disability. Our attorneys at Dayes Law Firm are ready to help increase your chances of approval. An initial consultation is 100 percent free and comes with no obligation to hire us.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can impact many joints and cause severe pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. Advanced rheumatoid arthritis can impact one or more body systems because it is an autoimmune condition.  

Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the hand, wrist and finger joints, but it can also affect the joints in the knees and feet. Individuals with this condition may not be able to perform basic work tasks, such as pulling, carrying, lifting, handing or reaching for items. It can also impact your ability to sit, stand, bend or squat.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis generally includes taking medications and undergoing occupational or physical therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation. If left untreated, this condition can cause joint deformities and make it even more difficult to use your hands.  

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Limits Your Ability to Work

The more severe your rheumatoid arthritis is, the greater work limitations you may have. Early rheumatoid arthritis often affects the joints in the hands, which can decrease your ability to work.

if your job is physically demanding, such as working on a construction site or in a warehouse, it can be harder to grasp or lift heavy objects. In an office setting, it may prevent you from working behind a computer using your mouse and keyboard, or holding a pen or inputting data for an extended period of time. Other repetitive work such as sorting paperwork or doing filing may also be especially challenging.  

If your rheumatoid arthritis limits your ability to perform certain work tasks, but is not completely disabling, you may find yourself still able to work, but not enough to earn a decent living.   

In these cases, you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) in order to qualify for disability benefits. Earning over the specified impairment-related work expenses will disqualify you.

For instance, you cannot earn over $1310 a month for any work performed in 2021. This means that if you can perform a bit of work, but you earn less than the SGA limit, you may be able to collect disability benefits. If the SSA thinks that you can work enough to earn SGA, your disability claim will be denied.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Social Security Disability

Rheumatoid arthritis is a severe medical condition that is considered disabling. The SSA’s Blue Book mentions this condition multiple times as an example under Listing 14.00 for Immune System Disorders. Section 14.09 specifically covers inflammatory arthritis.

To be eligible for Social Security Disability, you will need to provide the SSA will a fully detailed medical history that establishes the severity of your rheumatoid arthritis. You will also be required to provide adequate medical evidence that can confirm your diagnosis. The types of medical proof the claims examiner will be looking for include blood antibody tests, inflammation blood tests and imaging tests.

Your doctor’s notes could also show that your rheumatoid arthritis is severe enough that you are unable to work, despite receiving treatment to lessen the joint pain and inflammation you are experiencing. The more medical documentation you have, the greater chance at being approved for disability benefits.

Get Help with Your Disability Claim Today

Need help with your disability claim? If so, reach out to a Phoenix-based Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm today. We are prepared to represent you at every stage of the application process or the appeals process if you have already received a denial notice.

There is no risk in calling us to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

Call 1-800-503-2000 or complete our Free Case Review form.