Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis

The pain and stiffness of arthritis can progress until the condition severely limits the physical abilities of sufferers. Over 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. While this condition can be manageable, there are some types of arthritis that cause chronic pain, stiffness, swelling and limited range of motion. Fatigue and distraction due to pain are also common symptoms. For some people, work becomes increasingly difficult as the condition progresses. There are benefits available for these individuals.

Social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to people who suffer from a disability that is expected to last at least one year. The insurance program is funded through paycheck deductions, and there is a requirement that applicants work a minimum amount each year leading up to their claim date. Unlike welfare benefits, SSDI is an insurance program that applicants have paid into.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that causes severe inflammation in small joints found in the hands and feet of sufferers. Swelling results from the inflammation caused by the condition, and deformities in the joints may develop as a result of this swelling.

This type of arthritis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. The immune system will attack tissues in the body when a person has rheumatoid arthritis, and the fact that tissues are affected by the condition means that it is possible for complications to be experienced outside of the joints.

Common symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and warmth in the joints. Some people experience chronic fatigue and fever, and these symptoms may lead to permanent weight loss.

What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis only affects people who already have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes patches of white, scaly skin to form. Itching and inflammation are typically experienced with this condition.

Psoriatic arthritis causes swelling, inflammation, stiffness and pain in the joints. Some people with psoriasis experience joint pain before skin lesions form. This condition is chronic. While there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, it is possible for people to receive treatment for symptoms of the condition.

Common symptoms include swelling in the fingers and toes, pain in the ligaments and tendons of the feet and spondylitis, an inflammation of the joints in the spine. These symptoms can lead to deformations in the joints.

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are both autoimmune disorders. The body’s immune system will attack cells and tissues that are healthy when this condition is present. Many people are able to manage the condition by using medications that are targeted to specific symptoms. Unfortunately, there are some sufferers who are not able to get the relief they need from treatments.

Receiving SSDI For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are eligible to receive SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates each individual case to determine the severity of the condition. There are two ways to qualify for benefits with rheumatoid arthritis.

The SSA maintains listings of recognized disabilities. People who suffer from a condition that is included in one of these listings will have an easier time of applying for benefits. People who have the condition can qualify for benefits under a listing if they:

  • Have to use a walker to stay mobile
  • Cannot perform tasks that require use of the arms
  • Have developed a deformity in the joints
  • Have ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine
  • Suffer from chronic symptoms like fatigue, fever or weight loss

The other way that individuals with this condition can qualify for benefits is by proving that their arthritis severely limits abilities that are necessary for them to perform job tasks. It is important to note that the SSA will look into the work history of the applicant to determine whether there are any positions for which the applicant qualifies that require a reduced number of physically active tasks.

Receiving SSDI For Psoriatic Arthritis

As with rheumatoid arthritis, there are two ways for individuals to qualify for benefits when suffering from psoriatic arthritis. One way is to meet the requirements for a listing maintained by the SSA. Since people who have this type of arthritis also have psoriasis, they may be eligible for benefits through the Dermatitis listing.

This listing requires the sufferer to have severe skin lesions that last at least three months. It is necessary for these lesions to be present despite treatments. Lesions must be present in a place that makes it difficult for sufferers to go about their normal routine. For example, people who use their hands to work may be eligible under the listing if their lesions are on both palms.

Other listings that may apply when an individual is suffering from psoriatic arthritis include Major Dysfunction of a Joint, Reconstructive Surgery of a Weight-Bearing Joint, Disorders of the Spine and Inflammatory Arthritis. Whether an individual will be approved based on these listings depends upon the type and severity of their symptoms.

Anyone who suffers from this condition and does not qualify for benefits under a listing has the option to apply by completing a residual functional capacity assessment. This evaluation determines whether the condition limits the physical abilities of the applicant severely enough to make it impossible for the individual to work in any position for which they are qualified.

Getting Help From an Attorney

Applying for SSDI benefits is a difficult and confusing process. Many people who are applying for much-needed benefits feel overwhelmed and alone. SSDI attorneys are able to ease this burden.

Experienced SSDI legal representatives understand the complex process of applying for benefits. These attorneys are able to guide applicants through the process to ensure that they are providing the SSA with complete paperwork. One of the most common reasons for a denial of application is lack of proof, and attorneys are able to make sure that their clients are gathering sufficient medical evidence before sending in the finished application. Hiring a legal representative helps to ease the burden of applying for benefits.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.