Arthritis and Social Security Disability

I have heard many stories of people in America having a difficult time trying to get benefits for their disability. This post contains help for any person in the US with arthritis who would like to apply for Social Security Disability. This article is here for my reader's benefit, and I hope you are able to find guidance in this post. It was written by Ram Meyyappan at Social Security Disability Help. Links to Social Security Disability Help are featured at the end of this article. -Elizabeth

Arthritis and Social Security Disability

Though various forms of arthritis may allow you to continue working for some time after the initial onset of the disease, as symptoms progress most forms become increasingly debilitating, putting more and more limitations on your everyday abilities to complete normal job functions and tasks in your personal life as well.

If you suffer from arthritis that is preventing you from working as you once did, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits through either or both of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs.

SSD Programs and Technical Eligibility
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which provides benefits to eligible workers who become disabled, requires you have sufficient work credits and limited monthly income from employment.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program that requires you have very limited income and other financial resources available to you.

Medical Eligibility Requirements
Being medically eligible for SSD benefits through either program means you must:

· meet the SSA’s definition of disability, which requires you have a medical condition that:
o prevents gainful employment
o has lasted, or is expected to last, at least a year or which is terminal
AND · must prove your condition either:
o meets or matches a listed condition in the SSA’s Blue Book (
o So severely limits your abilities that it prevents gainful employment despite not meeting or matching a listed condition.

Listed Forms of Arthritis
The SSA’s Blue Book contains two primary sections related to arthritis:

· Section 1.04 – Disorders of the Spine – under which facet arthritis and osteoarthritis may be evaluated.
· Section 14.09 – Inflammatory Arthritis – under which rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis would be reviewed.

Documenting Disability under Section 1.04

For disorders of the spine, the evidence required depends primarily on the area of the spine in which your arthritis is located. Generally speaking however, this listing requires you must document nerve root compression or spinal cord damage or compromise that specifically causes:

· Nerve pain
· Spinal movement limitations
· Loss of motor muscle control, including weakness or coordination problems or degeneration of motor muscles
· Loss of sensory reflexes or motor reflexes

Again, dependent upon where your spinal arthritis is present, your application may additionally need to document:

· Pronounced issues with remaining in the same position for any significant length of time, especially in a seated position,
· Problems with standing and walking or otherwise moving about

Proving Disability under Listing 14.09
Inflammatory forms of arthritis are autoimmune in nature, which means documenting your disability under the listing in section 14.09 requires you prove the presence of inflammatory arthritic symptoms, but may also require you show the additional effects of the disorder on your other body systems or overall condition.

Documenting disability under this listing requires you show:

· Consistent and ongoing problems with inflammation or progressive deformity of:
o A major joint which bears the weight of your body and therefore severely affects your ability to move,
o A major joint in your upper body that severely limits your ability to complete tasks that require fine and/or gross motor control.

You can also prove disability under this listing by documenting the previously mentioned symptoms, in addition to:

· moderate to severe affects on one or more body organs or systems,
· at least two of the body-wide affects of autoimmune disease, which may include:
o malaise
o unintentional weight loss
o persistent fever
o severe fatigue

Other ways you can meet this listing include showing you experience:

· inflammation in your spinal column, or fusing of your vertebrae that causes significant malformation of your spine and makes it impossible for you to maintain a proper stance,
· persistent autoimmune symptoms like those listed above which affect your body organs, systems, and/or full body condition, and which also result in:
o severe limitations in completing daily tasks
o significant reduction in your ability to function socially
o marked limitations in completing tasks in a “normal” amount of time due to inability to concentrate, persist, or keep a consistent pace

Qualifying under a Medical Vocational Allowance
Even if your arthritis doesn’t meet or closely match one of these listing, you may still be able to qualify for disability benefits under a “medical vocational allowance”, which looks at your “residual functional capacity”, which is essentially your ability to complete normal everyday tasks, including typical job functions.

Submitting Your Application for SSD
You can complete your disability application online at the SSA’s website ( or in person at your local SSA office. To find a local office in your area, please visit:

Be sure to schedule your appointment in advance, if you decide to complete your application at your local office. The online application process requires no wait and is often the fastest way to file a claim.


Article by Ram Meyyappan

Social Security Disability Help


  1. Awesome post Elizabeth!! I'll be sharing it with the Sausage Toes and Scales Facebook page. You always amaze me with your insight and understanding. Keep up the great work!!!

    1. When the guest post on SSD was offered, I took it and hoped it would help :) Thanks so much! :)

  2. Thank you for posting this on your blog. There are various forms and stages of arthritis, so it’s a big help that the post managed to distinguish who’s eligible for SSD. Anyhow, I hope arthritis patients get the benefits they deserve. Keep up the good work, Elizabeth!

    Brad Post @ Jan Dils


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