If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis and unable to work, you may consider filing for Social Security Disability benefits. There are two primary programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which is work-credit based and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which is needs-based. The amount you receive in disability benefits depends on which program(s) you qualify for.
How Much Does Disability Pay for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
SSDI disability payments are based on your average lifetime earnings and will vary per individual. The Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that as of January 2022, disabled workers, and spouses with one or more children receive an average benefit of $2,383, while all disabled workers receive an average monthly benefit of $1,358. Some disabled workers receive more than the average per month, and some receive less.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal base amount for 2022 is $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 per month for a couple.
Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Qualify for Disability?
The SSA Blue Blook rheumatoid arthritis listing offers a helpful outline as to how the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes decisions on rheumatoid arthritis claims.
Section 14.00 for Immune System Disorders in SSA’s blue book of listings contains sub-section 14.09 for Inflammatory Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis falls under this section.
The general categorization for all inflammatory arthritis conditions reads as follow:
“General. The spectrum of inflammatory arthritis includes a vast array of disorders that differ in cause, course, and outcome. Clinically, inflammation of major joints in an upper or lower extremity may be the dominant manifestation causing difficulties with walking or fine and gross movements; there may be joint pain, swelling, and tenderness.
The arthritis may affect other joints or cause less limitation in walking or fine and gross movements. However, in combination with extra-articular features, including constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and involuntary weight loss), inflammatory arthritis may result in an extreme limitation.”
Qualifications for Meeting the Disability Standard for Rheumatoid Arthritis
SSA further outlines their qualifications for determining when a claimant living with rheumatoid arthritis is considered disabled. These qualifications are organized by the location of the inflammation and/or deformity into two broad categories: upper extremities and lower extremities.
According to these qualifications, successful disability claims for rheumatoid arthritis involve persistent inflammation or a persistent deformity of at least one of the major peripheral joints in your lower extremities.
In addition to the above, your claim must contain medical documentation which clearly indicates a need for an assistive device or an inability to use one upper extremity for work purposes. In essence, the medical records must establish and prove that you have significant impairments in both your upper and lower extremities which limit your ability to work.
SSA will also consider a claim successful if your rheumatoid arthritis only impacts your upper extremities but is so severe that you cannot use your hands or arms to complete work. Similarly, if your rheumatoid arthritis progresses to involvement of a key organ or body system causing severe fatigue, fever or involuntary weight loss you may have a successful claim.
Disability Lawyers in Charlotte, NC
Don’t be discouraged if you are living with rheumatoid arthritis and find the medical information listed above overwhelming. At Collins Price, PLLC, our Disability Lawyers in Charlotte, NC help individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis apply for and appeal denied disability benefits. We also represent you at disability hearings. There is no fee for our services unless we win your claim.
If you are having repeated flares and instances of inflammatory arthritis which limit your ability to live independently, function socially or to complete work-related tasks in a timely manner, you may qualify for disability. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation on your claim.