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Does having Rheumatoid Arthritis mean I can get Social Security Disability or SSI?

March 1, 2018 Law

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a very serious joint disease that affects many Americans.  A client asked me whether having RA and getting infusions would allow her to automatically be eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI.  The answer is, well, it depends.  Sorry to be a lawyer but there are very few conditions that are disabling right after diagnosis.  First of all, if you’re working full time you’re not disabled under SSA rules no matter what your diagnosis is (there are very limited exceptions).  Secondly, very few diagnoses are instantly disabling under SSA rules: ALS and End Stage Renal Disease are the only 2 that come to mind.  

RA, however, can be debilitating and lead to the SSA finding you disabled if it’s serious enough.  There are fairly complex rules governing whether RA is disabling but most rules concern the symptoms, including fatigue, swelling and pain.  Also it depends on what body part the RA affects.  If RA affects your hands very severely then it can be impossible to work any kind of job. Almost all jobs require at least occasional use of the hands.  Those over 50 with RA have a very good chance of winning their Social Security Disability/SSI case because RA so often affects the hands and feet.  Standing can be painful, and sitting using ones’ hands can be painful. It is important to keep telling your doctor or specialist about your symptoms so that SSA will have the evidence to know that you are disabled.

Disclaimer:  This blog post is for general information only, speak to a lawyer if you need specific information about your case.  We will give you a free consultation, as do most lawyers.