Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Rheumatoid arthritis and disability benefits

The aching in your hands became a source of frustration, so you sought the advice of your doctor. You may have undergone blood tests, X-rays and examinations by specialists before receiving the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Upsetting as that diagnosis may have been, it probably did not come as a surprise, especially if you have family members who also suffered from this debilitating condition.

Unfortunately, the outlook for someone with an RA diagnosis is not good. Within 10 years, about 35% can no longer work. In fact, you may be reaching this point now, and it has you wondering if you can seek disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

A better chance of approval

As long as you can maintain gainful employment, not necessarily the job you have always done, you will not qualify for benefits through the SSA. The approval process for most conditions is quite strict, and many first-time applicants are disappointed when the SSA denies their request. If agents at the SSA conclude that you still have enough strength and residual ability to perform certain activities, they may decide you are able to work to support yourself. You can advance your cause by providing the following information and more:

  • A record of the activities in your daily routine that you can no longer complete without assistance because of your RA
  • A log of the progress of your arthritis
  • Complete records of all medical exams, tests, screenings and physician reports related to your diagnosis.
  • A list of medications, therapies and other forms of treatment you have tried, including any homeopathic efforts
  • Pictures of the parts of your body most affected by arthritis
  • The results of a physical capabilities evaluation from a physical therapist

Your doctor can be a great benefit to your cause by submitting a detailed report of your condition and its progress. You may also consider seeking a psychological evaluation since many who live with debilitating arthritis also experience mental health issues like depression or anxiety. A record that you sought help for these collateral conditions may help your case.

It is important that you follow any treatment plan your doctor suggests since the SSA will want to see that you are making efforts to remain as active as possible. You may also find that working with an Alabama attorney can improve your chances of obtaining benefits the first time or through an appeal of your denial.

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