Arthritis is a very common problem. It is estimated that one in five U.S. adults will receive a diagnosis of this condition, and data suggest that nearly half of all Americans may develop osteoarthritis in the knees by age 85. Symptoms, which often occur after the age of 40, include pain and stiffness in joints. This can limit an individual’s mobility and may eventually require surgery. The dedicated Social Security lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates have two decades of experience representing Massachusetts clients as well as individuals in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Based in Boston, our seasoned attorneys have developed the skills and expertise needed to handle the complex issues that can arise in this area. We can help you present a persuasive claim for Social Security benefits due to osteoarthritis or another medical condition, and we know how to help you file an appeal if your application has been denied.Osteoarthritis and Disability Benefits
You may be entitled to receive Social Security if you are unable to work because of a medical condition that is anticipated to last at least one year or result in death. When evaluating an application for this form of assistance, the Social Security Administration (SSA) typically uses its Listing of Impairments, which is comprised of medical conditions that they consider severe enough to prevent a person from working. Someone who meets the requirements of a section in the Listing likely will qualify for benefits.
Two sections that may make you eligible for Social Security due to osteoarthritis are 1.00(K)(4) and 1.04. These are the Listings related to the spine, which is commonly affected by this condition. Another section that may be relevant is 1.02. This Listing covers major joint dysfunction, which might include the chronic pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis.
If your condition does not meet the criteria of these sections but prevents you from working, you may still qualify for disability benefits under SSA’s residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation. The RFC assessment is based on medical records as well as other evidence such as the applicant’s subjective understanding of his or her situation. It is focused on evaluating an individual’s capacity to engage in work-related activities.
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you discover that you are disabled, since the process typically takes several months. Applications can be made online, in person at your local SSA office, or over the phone. There will be an initial evaluation of a claimant that addresses preliminary issues such as whether you have worked enough years to qualify. If you meet the basic requirements, the SSA then passes the application to your state’s Disability Determination Services office, which follows a five-step process to decide if you’re disabled:
- Are you currently working? If not, or your earnings are sufficiently low, continue to 2.
- How severe is your medical condition? If your condition is severe and prevents you from working for at least one year, continue to 3.
- Does the Listing cover your impairment? If your disability meets the criteria of a section in the Listing, the state agency fill find you disabled. If not, continue to 4.
- What kind of work did you do previously? If your disability prevents you from doing work that you did in the past, continue to 5.
- Are you able to perform other kinds of work? If you are unable to do other work, the state will find that you are disabled.
Throughout this process, an experienced advocate can work with you and your health care providers to gather all the medical records, tests, and paperwork needed to make a strong claim for Social Security.Pursuing Government Benefits for Massachusetts Residents Suffering from Disabilities
The law firm of Kantrovitz & Associates consists of experienced government benefits attorneys who help claimants in Plymouth, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex Counties, as well as the Merrimack River area. If you have questions about whether osteoarthritis qualifies you for assistance, our staff can help explain your options. Contact us today by calling toll-free at 1-800-367-0871 (617-367-0880) or sending us a message through the contact form on our webpage.