Can You Get Disability For Rheumatoid Arthritis? (2023)

Can You Get Disability For Rheumatoid Arthritis? (1)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, a qualifying disability, but it must be advanced RA to meet the SSA’s eligibility requirements.

That means that you yourrheumatoid arthritis has to be so severe that you will be out of work for at least 12 months. You must also have enough work credits to qualify for disability withrheumatoid arthritis.

You must meet the SSA's medical criteria forrheumatoid arthritis and have enough work credits, you will be able to qualify for disability benefits withrheumatoid arthritis.

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis a Disability?

Rheumatoid arthritis can be considered disability by the SSA. In order for the SSA to call your rheumatoid arthritis a disability, you need to meet the medical requirements outlined in the SSA’s Blue Book, which is the list of conditions that qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

In order for the SSA to consider your rheumatoid arthritis a disability, your rheumatoid arthritis needs to be so severe that you will be out of work for 12 months or longer.

Once you meet the medical requirements outlined by the SSA, you also need to meet the work requirements too. Social Security disability benefits are for workers who can no longer work anymore because of a disability or a serious ailment like rheumatoid arthritis.

In order to meet the work requirements, you need to have a certain amount of work credits. Work credits are calculated by how old you are and how long you have worked.

You can earn up to 4 work credits per year for every year you worked. If you meet both the medical and work requirements outlined by the SSA, the SSA will consider your rheumatoid arthritis a disability and you can start earning Social Security disability benefits.

(Video) New Rules for Winning Rheumatoid Arthritis Social Security Disability Claims

Disabling Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which can affect the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that down the road can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

Early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include swollen or tender joints, which usually start in your fingers and toes. As rheumatoid arthritis gets worse, that joint swellness and joint pain can affect your knees, wrists, shoulders and hips. Over time rheumatoid arthritis can case the joints to be permanently deformed. While there is no diagnostic test for rheumatoid arthritis, you are still able to qualify for disability benefits.

Your rheumatoid arthritis needs to be so disabling that you can no longer work full time because of it.

Ensure Your Medical History is Lengthy and Detailed

RA is a progressive disease and the SSA needs to see how your illness has worsened over time. They must have a formal diagnosis, including the date of the disease’s onset, in addition to detailed medical records showing you have consistently sought qualified medical care and followed prescribed treatments.

Detailed medical records are the key to approval for disability benefits and a lengthy medical history ensures the SSA has the proof necessary to evaluate your claim. Details records allow the disability examiners to understand the full extent of your RA symptoms and how your symptoms affect your ability to perform everyday job functions.

Work Closely with Your Rheumatologist to Confirm Work Limitations

Although the SSA has a standard disability listing under which RA is reviewed, they will likely need to see a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation from your doctor as well. This report must detail your symptoms and the limitations they place on your everyday abilities.

The opinion of a rheumatologist holds the most weight. Work closely with your doctor to accurately reflect your everyday limitations and remember that your doctor works for you.

If your current physician is not willing to work with you in the way you need, find another specialist to provide ongoing treatment and the kind of support required when applying for SSD benefits.

Clearly Establish Your Work Limitations through Medical and Work History Records

Some people with RA can continue to work for many years following their diagnosis. Even after workers are unable to perform more strenuous and physical job duties, many can still do sedentary work, at least for a time.

(Video) Rheumatoid Arthritis: Long-Term Disability Benefits

To be approved for SSD, you must ensure your medical records and your work history show you are no longer able to keep a physical or even sedentary job. Be sure to document specific job duties and the symptoms that now prevent you from completing those duties. Use the following to achieve your goal:

  • answers in the disability application,
  • work records, including performance evaluations and attendance documents,
  • statements from former employers,
  • and reports completed by your doctor

Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Qualify for Disability?

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered a disability by the SSA andyou are able to get disability benefits with rheumatoid arthritis.

In order to qualify for disability benefits with rheumatoid arthritis, you need to meet the medical requirements listed in the SSA’s Blue Book.

The Blue Book is the list of conditions that can qualify someone for disability benefits. When you send in your SSDI application, the SSA will look at your application and see if it matches with the Blue book listing for inflammatory arthritis.

Can You Get Disability For Rheumatoid Arthritis? (2)

While there is not exact listing for rheumatoid arthritis, you can still get disability rheumatoid arthritis if you meet the Blue Book listing for inflammatory arthritis.

The most important thing that you need to know in order to qualify for disability benefits with is to make sure that you have detailed medical records and medical history to back up your claim that you can no longer work because of your rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Qualify Using the Blue Book forRheumatoid Arthritis

The Social Security Administration relies upon the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, commonly known as the Blue Book, to help understand how a medical condition impacts the ability to work. The Blue Book is a comprehensive, though not exhaustive, list of medical conditions.

Rheumatoid Arthritis falls under section 1.00 Musculoskeletal System. When completing your application for disability benefits, you will want to include all imaging results used to reach your diagnosis including x-rays, sonograms, MRIs and any other imaging that was done.

(Video) Social Security Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is important because the SSA will not pay to obtain imaging results, and that means you need to provide everything that they will need for their decision.

In addition to the imaging results, be sure to include a complete medical history of your condition, including the diagnosis, test results and treatment plan. Talk with your doctor about your application so that your doctor can help you obtain the information you need to support your claim.

Using an RFC to Qualify for SSD Benefits with RA

In some cases, the Social Security Administration will not be able to confirm that your condition qualifies as a disability, but you might still be unable to work. You will need to have your physician fill out a Residual Function Capacity form (RFC) to certify how much work, if any, you are capable of performing given your condition.

The RFC is crucial when it comes to applying for benefits because it is a determination of the maximum amount of work you are capable of performing, and since your doctor is the one who certifies it, the SSA can rely on these findings to make their decision.

The SSA will decide whether your condition would allow you to work in a different job, or perhaps with accommodations, or if work of any kind is out of the question.

Your doctor is your greatest ally when it comes to filling out your RFC form. While your doctor cannot inflate your symptoms, your doctor is able to describe how you are actually doing, which is something that the Blue Book cannot do.

Your doctor has examined you and can see if you struggle to stand up or are unable to grasp pens and pencils, or if you are having adverse reactions to medications that you are taking.

Make sure you talk with your doctor early on about your intention to file for disability benefits so that your doctor can keep notes that will help him or her to fill out the RFC form in a timely manner.

Percentage of People Initially Denied

The Social Security Administration receives tens of thousands of disability benefits applications each year. Surprisingly, 70% of applications are denied the first time around.Be sure to look out for the signs that you will be denied for disability.

(Video) Rheumatoid Arthritis Long Term Disability Claim Tips

This is a huge number, but when you consider the number of people who apply and don’t qualify, how many people submit incomplete applications and how many people do not provide enough medical documentation, then suddenly that number starts to make sense.

When you set out to apply for Social Security disability benefits with arthritis, it can be an overwhelming task to gather all of the necessary medical documentation and information about your work history. You also have to be sure that the application has been completed properly.

If you don’t have anyone who can help you with the application process, or if you need more help beyond what your friends and family are able to provide, you might consider working with a Social Security disability attorney.

Disability attorneys understand the process and will make sure your application has everything it needs, and they can help you obtain any additional information that will help to make your claim as strong as possible.

While working with a disability attorney does not guarantee that you will win your case, having a disability advocateworking on your behalf will greatly improve your chances of being approved.

You Could Earn Up to $40,140 a Year! Get a Free Case Evaluation

Although rheumatoid arthritis is a qualified disability in its advanced stages, you may need help to prove your disabled status to the SSA. If you are unable to precisely meet the listing for Inflammatory Arthritis as it appears in Section 14.09 of the SSA's Blue Book, you will need to qualify for benefits through an RFC analysis instead.

Can You Get Disability For Rheumatoid Arthritis? (3)

A Social Security lawyer or disability advocate familiar with how the SSA handles RA claims can help you:


(Video) Rheumatoid Arthritis and Social Security Disability

  • prepare your application,
  • collect the necessary evidence for supporting your claim for benefits,
  • understand communications you receive from the Social Security Administration.

An attorney can also help in a number of other ways throughout the application and review processes, including handling your appeal, if you are denied disability.

Additional Resources

  • How Severe Does my Arthritis Need to be to Qualify?
  • What is Rheumatoid Arthritis And How To Qualify For SSDI
  • 5 Signs Your Claim for Disability Benefits May Be Approved With Arthritis


What benefits am I entitled to if I have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Money and benefits

if you have a job but cannot work because of your condition, you're entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer for up to 28 weeks. if you do not have a job and cannot work because of your condition, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance.

Is rheumatoid arthritis classed as a disability? ›

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, a qualifying disability, but it must be advanced RA to meet the SSA's eligibility requirements. That means that you your rheumatoid arthritis has to be so severe that you will be out of work for at least 12 months.

What type of arthritis is considered a disability? ›

You may automatically qualify for benefits if your arthritis is affecting your spine and compromising any nerve roots within the spinal cord. Arthritis should cause your spinal cord to experience widespread pain, limited flexibility, and inflammation that necessitates a change in positioning every few hours.

What percentage of disability is rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Rheumatoid Arthritis is rated under Diagnostic Code 5002. RA can be evaluated at up to a 100 percent disability rating which is not common amongst service-connected health ailments.

Is rheumatoid arthritis a big deal? ›

RA is a very serious autoimmune disease, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body's tissues and causes severe joint pain, stiffness, severe fatigue, and sometimes deformity, usually in the hands, shoulders, knees, and/or feet. It affects men, women, and children of all ages.

Is rheumatoid arthritis a serious condition? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has many physical and social consequences and can lower quality of life. It can cause pain, disability, and premature death. Premature heart disease. People with RA are also at a higher risk for developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Can arthritis stop you from working? ›

If you have severe osteoarthritis and are still working, your symptoms may interfere with your working life and may affect your ability to do your job. If you have to stop work or work part time because of your arthritis, you may find it hard to cope financially.

What is Stage 4 rheumatoid arthritis? ›

At stage 4, there's no longer inflammation in the joint. This is end-stage RA, when joints no longer work. In end-stage RA, people may still experience pain, swelling, stiffness, and mobility loss. There may be reduced muscle strength.

What type of arthritis is the most painful? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis can be one of the most painful types of arthritis; it affects joints as well as other surrounding tissues, including organs. This inflammatory, autoimmune disease attacks healthy cells by mistake, causing painful swelling in the joints, like hands, wrists and knees.

What should you not do if you have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

If you fail to follow the treatment regimen — by not filling prescriptions, not taking medication as directed, not exercising, or skipping appointments — there is an increased risk of worsening symptoms and disease activity.

Is arthritis a long term disability? ›

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions leading to long term disability. Many people with arthritis find their range of motion too limited and joint pain too unbearable to continue working.

What is the most approved disability? ›

What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.

How do you get declared disabled? ›

It says you're disabled if: you have a physical or mental impairment. that impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

What's worse osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis? ›

The two conditions can cause similar symptoms, but they have different causes and treatments. OA usually affects fewer joints, and its symptoms are generally limited to the joints. The progression of RA is more difficult to predict, and it can cause more widespread symptoms.

Can I still work with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

With understanding and support from employers and healthcare teams, it is possible for most people with RA to remain in work for as long as they wish.

What is the most successful drug for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Three years later, methotrexate won FDA approval for treating RA, and it soon became the treatment of choice for people with this condition and other forms of inflammatory arthritis as well. About 90% of RA patients use methotrexate at some point.

What is the life expectancy of a person with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

It's possible to live a long life with RA, but it is estimated that the disease can potentially reduce life expectancy by 3 to 10 years.

What happens after you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain, swelling and deformity. As the tissue that lines your joints (synovial membrane) becomes inflamed and thickened, fluid builds up and joints erode and degrade. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints.

What happens after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Because RA causes system-wide inflammation, people with the disease also often complain of increased fatigue and decreased stamina, general malaise, fever, weight loss and even "brain fog." Over time, the inflammation can progress to affect the heart, lungs, eyes and blood vessels.

Does rheumatoid arthritis show up on xray? ›

For decades, X-rays were used to help detect rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and monitor for worsening bone damage. In the early stages of RA, however, X-rays may appear normal although the disease is active, making the films useful as a baseline but not much help in getting a timely diagnosis and treatment.

How quickly does rheumatoid arthritis progress? ›

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis often develop gradually over several weeks, but some cases can progress quickly over a number of days. The symptoms vary from person to person. They may come and go, or change over time. You may experience flares when your condition deteriorates and your symptoms become worse.

What is the root cause of rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means it's caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. However, it's not yet known what triggers this. Your immune system normally makes antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses, helping to fight infection.

What aggravates rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Overexertion, poor sleep, stress or an infection like the flu can all set off RA symptoms. With a predictable flare you'll temporarily feel worse, but your symptoms will resolve in time. Unpredictable flares have more uncertainty associated with them.

Should I tell my employer I have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

You don't have to tell your boss or co-workers about your condition. "If RA is not affecting your ability to work, there's really no reason to bring it up," White says. But if the disease is making it hard for you to do your job, it makes sense to talk about it.

Can I get a blue badge with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

You may be eligible for a blue badge, meaning you can park closer to where you need to go. If you claim benefits like Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, or you have difficulty getting around because of your arthritis, then this will support your application.

What is the best job for someone with arthritis? ›

10 jobs to consider if you have arthritis
  • Contractor.
  • Customer service representative.
  • Accountant.
  • Editor.
  • Virtual assistant.
  • Writer.
  • Data analyst.
  • Software engineer.

How do you know if your rheumatoid arthritis is severe? ›

If you notice that you cannot move your joints as much or as easily as before, even if you don't have swelling or pain, your RA may be getting worse,” says Dr. Ghosh. Changes in the way joints look or function, which do not improve with changes in RA treatment, can be a sign of disease progression, says Dr.

What is the most common cause of death in patients with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Compared with people without the disease, people with rheumatoid arthritis are nearly twice as likely to die before the age of 75 and are more likely to succumb to cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems, study finds.

Why is rheumatoid arthritis so painful? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means your immune system (which usually fights infection) attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake, making the joints swollen, stiff and painful.

What is the best painkiller for arthritis? ›

Pain relief medicines
  • Paracetamol. If you have pain caused by osteoarthritis, a GP may suggest taking paracetamol to begin with. ...
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ...
  • Opioids. ...
  • Capsaicin cream. ...
  • Steroid injections.

How does RA affect the brain? ›

A lot of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) report having trouble with memory, attention, and mental focus. They forget names and appointments, struggle to find the right words and have trouble making and carrying out plans.

How do I get tested for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Your rheumatologist will order blood tests and imaging tests. The blood tests look for inflammation and blood proteins (antibodies) that are signs of rheumatoid arthritis. These may include: Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or “sed rate” confirms inflammation in your joints.

Can you drive with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Diagnosis with arthritis doesn't necessarily effect your driving at all but it might so it is important you fully understand the law. Driving with arthritis doesn't have to difficult and you can still keep your car in many instances.

What inflames rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Other triggers include overexertion, stress, infection or poor sleep. “Disease-modifying arthritis therapies are NOT cures; they maintain patients (hopefully) in states of low-disease activity or occasionally even remission.

Can you live with RA without medication? ›

Since RA is a progressive disease, you cannot live with it without medical treatment. If you do, the symptoms will gradually get worse and become disabling. There are some natural remedies that you can use to help with some symptoms relief. This includes using essential oils, getting acupuncture, and more.

What is the hardest state to get disability? ›

Oklahoma is the hardest state to get approved for social security disability.
2020 SSDI approval rankings.
2020 approval rate69.7%
2020 average monthly benefit$1,228
% change in approval rate13.7%
49 more columns
11 Jan 2021

What is the easiest disability to prove? ›

The Top 5 Easiest Things to Claim for VA Disability
  • Mental Health Conditions. Mental health conditions like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and somatic disorder are considered high-value claims. ...
  • Scars. ...
  • Musculoskeletal Conditions. ...
  • Presumptive Disorders. ...
  • Tinnitus.

What's the easiest thing to get disability for? ›

What are the top 10 conditions that qualify for disability?
  1. Arthritis. Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disabilities are the most commonly approved conditions for disability benefits. ...
  2. Heart Disease. ...
  3. Degenerative Disc Disease. ...
  4. Respiratory Illness. ...
  5. Mental Illnesses. ...
  6. Cancer. ...
  7. Stroke. ...
  8. Nervous System Disorders.
12 Jul 2022

What disqualifies a person from disability? ›

Making Too Much Money. To qualify for disability benefits, a person must not be able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) earning up to a certain amount. If you are able to make more than the SGA, then you will not qualify. For 2022 the threshold is $1,350 per month.

How do I know if I am disabled? ›

We consider you to have a qualifying disability under Social Security rules if all the following are true: You cannot do work and engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of your medical condition. You cannot do work you did previously or adjust to other work because of your medical condition.

Do you need a diagnosis to be considered disabled? ›

You have an impairment if your physical or mental abilities are reduced in some way. This could be the result of a medical condition - for example, if you have arthritis in your hands and you can't grip or carry things very well. An impairment doesn't have to be a diagnosed medical condition.

Is it easier to get disability after 55? ›

The SSA has made it much easier for older people to get disability benefits. For people at or over the age of 55 years, it's easier to qualify, because the requirements for disability are lower level for those close to an older age.

What type of arthritis qualifies for disability? ›

You may automatically qualify for benefits if your arthritis is affecting your spine and compromising any nerve roots within the spinal cord. Arthritis should cause your spinal cord to experience widespread pain, limited flexibility, and inflammation that necessitates a change in positioning every few hours.

Can a blood test detect rheumatoid arthritis? ›

No blood test can definitively prove or rule out a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, but several tests can show indications of the condition. Some of the main blood tests used include: erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) – which can help assess levels of inflammation in the body.

How painful is rheumatoid arthritis? ›

If you have RA, joint pain can range from mild to moderate or severe. Sometimes it can feel like a sprain or broken bone. Some areas of your body may even be painful to the touch.

Does rheumatoid arthritis qualify for disability tax credit? ›

The Disability Tax Service estimates that those who qualify for a disability tax credit amount can receive anywhere from $1,600 to $35,000 to cover costs of medical care and therapies to treat arthritis and walking impairments.

Can you still work with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Some days, a person living with RA may be able to work, exercise, and be productive. Other days, the same person may struggle with everyday tasks, lack of sleep, debilitating pain, disabling stiffness, joint swelling, or drug side effects such as nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and drowsiness.

How long does it take to get disability for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers RA a disability if a person meets the following eligibility criteria: the person's condition is so severe that they will need to be out of work for 12 months or more. the person has gained enough work credits to qualify for disability benefits.

Can I get PIP with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is one of the benefits most commonly claimed by people with RA. It is not means tested and covers two areas of life commonly affected by RA: daily living and mobility.

Can I get full disability for arthritis? ›

Yes, you can get disability arthritis. In order to get disability for arthritis, your arthritis needs to be so severe that impacts your ability to work full time for at least year.

Is arthritis a permanent disability? ›

Yes. Arthritis can prompt incapacity, as can numerous other mental and physical conditions. If your arthritis confines your daily movements, or activities you may qualify for disability benefits. Your level of disability depends on the daily activities you find troublesome.


1. Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be Considered a Disability?
(ExpertVillage Leaf Group)
2. Your Eligibility For Short And Long-Term Disability Benefits For Rheumatoid Arthritis
(Nancy Cavey)
3. Social Security Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis
4. Can You Win a Rheumatoid Arthritis Case without Evidence of Joint Deformity
(Social Security Disability videos)
5. Prevalence of Functional Disability in Rheumatoid Arthritis
(Mayo Proceedings)
6. Do I Qualify For Disability Insurance Benefits If I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
(Nancy Cavey)
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