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Arthritis is inflammation of joints which causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and limitation in movement. Though there are hundreds of different types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, auto-immune arthritis, and osteoarthritis, they share common symptoms and treatment options. Social Security groups arthritis disorders together and requires that an individual be suffering from severe arthritis in order to qualify for disability benefits. This article will explain the Social Security Administration’s criteria for arthritis disorders, and how to best prepare your case for disability benefits.

Arthritis usually involves the breakdown of cartilage which normally protects joints and allows for easy movement. Cartilage absorbs shock when you move and walk, so without the right amount of cartilage, the bones rub together and this can cause significant pain and limited movement.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, and it’s more likely to occur as you age. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

  • Obesity
  • Injury to the joint
  • Repetitive action or overuse of the joint

About 37 million people in America have arthritis of some kind. This is an alarming 1 out of every 7 people. However, for most people the arthritis is not disabling and they are able to function normally for the most part. In order to meet Social Security’s standard for disabling arthritis, it must cause an inability to ambulate or perform fine and gross movements. This means that despite medication and treatment, the arthritis either significantly limits an individual’s ability to stand and walk, or significantly limits their ability to use their hands.

Examples of severe arthritis are people who cannot groom themselves, have difficulty writing, opening jars or using a knife and fork. These individuals are likely suffering from severe arthritis of their hands. Individuals who cannot stand without a cane or walker may be suffering from severe arthritis of their legs. Depending on your past work and age, the arthritis must prevent you from performing your past work and most other available jobs in order to qualify you for an award of disability benefits.

Social Security checks to see if the individual receives regular treatment from a specialist. A decision maker from the Social Security Administration will need to see a medical history, documenting the disease, its progression, and the treatment options which have been explored. Compliance with treatment, such as exercise, physical therapy, and taking medications as prescribed are vital to the case.

For an in depth analysis on how to present a strong arthritis case, contact an attorney specializing in disability law. For additional resources, see

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