Social Security Disability | Arthritis Information


Does anyone receive Disability in this forum and if so how in the world did you qualify?  I applied in March and today I got a denial letter, stating that my condition wasn't severe enough. 

I posted a message earlier (about 2 weeks ago) about working with RA and how it's accomplished, if it's accomplished.  Most people who responded did NOT work and those that did work had understanding bosses and coworkers and had been on their job for quite sometime.  Not only did I lose my job because of excess "sick days" but nobody will hire me because of the unreliability that comes along with RA.  So wouldn't you think that qualifies for Disability?
Any input would be greatly appreciated.  I'm filing an appeal but who knows if it will be approved or not.  Thank you so much. How long have you had RA? Have you gotten it under control with medicine yet? Maybe you should start with temporary disability while you see if things can get under control. I was out on medical leave for a little over 2 months but once my meds kicked in I went back to both jobs and haven't missed a day yet. If I was to lose this job I wouldn't offer any information about having RA to my prospective employer. It's none of their business. They don't know any better than I do of how this is all going to play out. For now I enjoy and take advantage of feeling good.I've had RA for about a year but didn't know it until this January and no it's still not under control.  On my 10th injection of Enbrel and still having flares, we shall see how that plays out at 3 months.  At any rate, if I were to get a job I would have to be out occasionally and that is NOT going to look good to a new employer, I know I wouldn't like it if I hired someone who was unreliable for whatever reason, so who am I to think it would be any different with me?  Since January I've had 5 flares that have rendered me unable to walk for several days and then the rest of the time I barely get a round until the flare ceases.  I estimate that if I'd been working since January, I would have been calling in sick for a month and a half.  Now that's Bad!!!Hi Audrey,
Sorry to hear about your denial and that you're still struggling with RA.   You're right that it may not be possible to find a new job at this time, but don't give up hope.   If your meds start kicking in and you start to feel better, maybe you can start with something part-time and work your way up to fulltime at some point if you need to.     

Temporary disability may still be the route to go for now- what did you doctor write on the forms he submitted?

I worked for over 20 years before going out on disability.  Many of us who had responded to your original thread had worked for many years beofre we filed for disability so we were qualified to respond.  Its not easy to work with uncontrolled RA.  It takes prioritizing your life towards your career, it takes a whole helluva lot of determination.  It takes a willingness, and I hate this term, to work through the pain.  It may mean a job change to better accomadate your current physical needs, it may mean taking advantage of the FMLA and ADA laws, it might mean taking a break until you find a working med,
  I applied for SSDI at the end of Sept of 2007 and was approved 61 days later.  I had reams of supporting documents from my doctors and documented multiple medication failures.  I had also had 7 major joints replacemed at the time.
You have an uphill battle..your age for one also the duration of time with the disease.  If haven't been under treatment long enough to show you might have refractory disease.  Do you have documented joint damage?
You have to be able to prove to the government that you are incapable of doing substantail work.  Right now they consider that any job at which you earn more than 0 per month..thats not a lot.  Your medical records must support your claims.  You must show symptom by symptom how each affect your ability to work
Audrey, are we talking about SSDI?  I just wanted to add that it's my understanding that most people get denied on the first go-round, even if they later win on appeal (which I understand is better than reapplying again).  Try not to be discouraged, and maybe contact an atty or a group that works on these kinds of claims.
I am just about to apply for SSDI.  I have been on short-term disability for 6 months now (with both my state disability coverage and employer's private disability provider), which is the limit, and so I am being "rolled over" to long-term with my employer's insurer (at least I'm hoping it's as simple as a roll-over, although sometimes I have trouble rolling over!
BTW, I've had RA for 2 years and have had multiple meds fail me, but I'm hoping one of them will work one of these days...  My situation is also complicated by degenerative disc for at least 10 years (3 lumbar, 2 cervical, plus stenosis and such) and fibromyalgia for 8 years.
Denial is something they make it a point of doing. They know that by doing so, a lot of people will give up and either go back to work or find another way of making ends meet. One of the things that will help you is to make a long highly detailed list of all of your ailments even if they aren't relevant to the illness now at hand. If you managed to work around those, it will show that you aren't simply trying to get on the system. A lawyer who specializes in this process is probably a good idea.

I'm planning on going back to work, rather than apply for disability, because I think I can and would much rather give it my best shot than go on disability.  If it appears that I can't cut it for whatever reason it will show my intent and desire to work were genuine. I was working some 7 and a half years before losing my jobs and being diagnosed with lymphoma and then getting FM.

Working is always the best option, even if you do it part time and apply for disability. There are also many jobs that you can do from home if that's best for you. And there are people who will hire you if you tell them upfront. Healthy people have doctor appointments and sick days too. It's not what you can't do, but what you can do that counts. Don't give up on yourself so fast.
appeal it. and get a lawyer, maybe. I worked for 2 years after being diagnosed with RA.  It was hell.  My RA was raging out of control and I was in extreme pain.  After having my hand operated on because of RA, my doctor suggested I find a new line of work.  I had been at my place of employment for almost 29 years.  You could retire with 30 years of service.  If I left  it would mean losing all of my benefits.  That wasn't an option. There was also no guarantee that if I did find another job, with my physical limitations and the amount of pain I was in, that I could do it. With my doctors support I applied for and was granted a disability pension.   I then applied for SSD.  I got denied twice and then got an attorney who specialized in disability cases.  I got approved at my administration hearing.  It took me almost 3 years from the day I applied until when I got approved.  Audrey,  the majority of people who apply for SSD do get denied.  Their hope is that you will get frustrated and give up.  If you think you are eligible and have the support of your doctor(s) keep fighting for your benefits.  I started the process with a disability attorney and was awarded SSD on my first try 8 months later.  My age (60) had something to do with being awarded and the many complications from RA and PsA were well documented. All my paperwork was in order, medical records well documented the diseases and complications.  My work history also helped.  I've worked constantly since age 14, even when I was in college.  Good luck, it can be a tricky process and I strongly suggest that you retain an attorney.  You don't pay until you've been awarded and SS pays the legal fees out of your first award.  Good luck.  Lindy  

Dealing with the pain, inflammation and fatigue of RA can make it difficult to do simple things, let alone manage a job.  I know you're having a difficult time right now, but have you given careful thought to going out on disability.  First of all, are you going to be able to survive on the disability benefit amount for the rest of your llife?  Are you applying for SSI or SSDI?  I don't think SSI is much, SSDI  is based on what you've paid in.  If you were able to get the RA under control, went back to work, and went out on disability later, your disability benefit amount might be more.  Living expenses aren't gonna get cheaper, the longer you work and pay into Soc Sec, the larger your benefit amount.

If you are eligible for SSI, I think you'd be eligible for Medicaid -- but all health insurances have restrictions -- an employer based plan might give you better coverage.  If you are applying for SSDI, then I believe you'd be eligible for Medicare -- but 2 yrs after you're accepted for SSDI (unless you're poor, then you're eligible for Medicaid).  (Double check all this cuz I'm not 100% sure)  So, my point being, going out on disability may seem the answer cuz you're RA isn't controlled right now, but living on a fixed, limited income has its problems too.  So consider all options -- perhaps working part time or going out on temporary disability.  I know things are difficult for you right now, but take care and good luck. 
With SSD you're eligible for Medicare 2 years after being awarded.  Lindy

I applied for the full amount so I guess that's SSDI, I'm not sure.  I have health insurance so I don't need Medicare.  The fixed income thing isn't a problem as it would just pay for my health insurance, Dr. visits and meds at this point.  My husband can manage the living expenses.

Thanks for all pf everyone's help.
You have been given very good advice and all I can add to it is to try to get better control of your disease so that you may continue to work for a bit longer.  Just getting diagnosed this year along with your age is against you as far as SSDI is concerned.  I was 58 when I applied and was accepted within five months of my last day or work, but I had already left my job of 25 years to take an easier one (shorter hours, lower pay) and the doctor kept urging me to apply for SSDI because of my pain and fatigue.  My medical records went back for many years and showed a downward progression of the disease. 


i'm going to say something you may not like.  Think about this decision long and hard.   Would you still be applying for disability if you had no other acces to medical insurance or needed the money.  At which point did you decide you were PERMANTLY disabled unable to do any work of any kind.   You haven't even been diagnosed for a year yet and the usual standard is that the disabilty is expected to last more than 12 months.     Why are you gicving up so easily?  I understand you are in pain right now believe me I do and I understand you lived in pain while waiting for a diaganois  But you are going to get better  why don't you give yourself a decent chance to go on with things
Like all the others have takes well documented decline in health as well as a very supportive doctor to even be considered for SSI or SSDI for RA, Lupus, etc. They feel people can get well enough to work.
I applied for SSDI and was awarded in 4 months. Mine had nothing to do with the RA though. It's a VERY long story, but I was having many medical issues, and my doctor (of course) thought it was all in my head. I continued trying to work, and eventually got fired because my doctor would not give them an acceptable diagnosis. I still had FMLA left to use, but it didn't matter. I missed too much, and my doctor was an A$$.
Long story short, after a year of therapy, and an ENT that said my hearing was the worst he had ever seen, I was approved very fast. There is a list they go by. If your illness/disease is on it, then you are granted the SSI/SSDI. My hearing qualified me, but now I have FINALLY been dx'd with RA.
I fired my old doctor. He got me fired, I fired him. :)

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security
(Blue Book- June 2006)

6. Inflammatory arthritis (14.09) includes a vast array of disorders that differ in cause, course, and outcome. For example, inflammatory spondyloarthropathies include ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter's syndrome and other reactive arthropathies, psoriatic arthropathy, Behçet's disease, and Whipple's disease, as well as undifferentiated spondylitis. Inflammatory arthritis of peripheral joints likewise comprises many disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, psoriatic arthritis, crystal deposition disorders, and Lyme disease. Clinically, inflammation of major joints may be the dominant problem causing difficulties with ambulation or fine and gross movements, or the arthritis may involve other joints or cause less restriction of ambulation or other movements but be complicated by extra-articular features that cumulatively result in serious functional deficit. When persistent deformity without ongoing inflammation is the dominant feature of the impairment, it should be evaluated under 1.02, or, if there has been surgical reconstruction, 1.03.

a. In 14.09A, the term major joints refers to the major peripheral joints, which are the hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist-hand, and ankle-foot, as opposed to other peripheral joints (e.g., the joints of the hand or forefoot) or axial joints (i.e., the joints of the spine.) The wrist and hand are considered together as one major joint, as are the ankle and foot. Since only the ankle joint, which consists of the juncture of the bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula) with the hindfoot (tarsal bones), but not the forefoot, is crucial to weight bearing, the ankle and foot are considered separately in evaluating weight bearing.

b. The terms inability to ambulate effectively and inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively in 14.09A have the same meaning as in 1.00B2b and 1.00B2c and must have lasted, or be expected to last, for at least 12 months.

c. Inability to ambulate effectively is implicit in 14.09B. Even though individuals who demonstrate the findings of 14.09B will not ordinarily require bilateral upper limb assistance, the required ankylosis of the cervical or dorsolumbar spine will result in an extreme loss of the ability to see ahead, above, and to the side.

d. As in 14.02 through 14.06, extra-articular features of an inflammatory arthritis may satisfy the criteria for a listing in an involved extra-articular body system. Such impairments may be found to meet a criterion of 14.09C. Extra-articular impairments of lesser severity should be evaluated under 14.09D and 14.09E. Commonly occurring extra-articular impairments include keratoconjunctivitis sicca, uveitis, iridocyclitis, pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis or nodules, restrictive lung disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, cardiac arrhythmias, aortic valve insufficiency, coronary arteritis, Raynaud's phenomena, systemic vasculitis, amyloidosis of the kidney, chronic anemia, thrombocytopenia, hypersplenism with compromised immune competence (Felty's syndrome), peripheral neuropathy, radiculopathy, spinal cord or cauda equina compression with sensory and motor loss, and heel enthesopathy with functionally limiting pain.

e. The fact that an individual is dependent on steroids, or any other drug, for the control of inflammatory arthritis is, in and of itself, insufficient to find disability. Advances in the treatment of inflammatory connective tissue disease and in the administration of steroids for its treatment have corrected some of the previously disabling consequences of continuous steroid use. Therefore, each case must be evaluated on its own merits, taking into consideration the severity of the underlying impairment and any adverse effects of treatment.

GrammaKathy2008-06-05 23:45:34I think that are other factors that are different in everyones life that some of you here really should consider.  Like if Audrey has any children.  I have also applied for ssdi, I probably wont get it but I physically can't work.  I have two children ages 4 and 2, both boys, and it is harder than any damn job to take care of them and I can't call in sick.  I am not complaining, they make my life worth living, but there is no possible way that I could work on top of having to care for them.Reegie
EVERYONE has factor in their lives that interfere with work but social security doesn't care about outside factors they only care about your ability to work for pay.  We all know that its often the combo of ordinary life and work that is difficult not one or the other but to receive disability it is the work half that takes presedence..the govt doesn't believe they should pay you to stay home and take care of the kids.  Many times the idea is if you can take care of your family you can work.
But in Audry's situation I was honestly concerned that she hasn't given treatment a chance to work.  She's been diagnosed for barely 6 months and to have already been turned down for SSDI means she applied much earlier after diagnosis.  She's saying she is permantly disabled without giving treatments a chance ro work. This disease waxes and wanes especially early in its course to make a decision like this so early, unless there are other serious health concerns in play here which she hasn't mentioned may not be wise.  She hasn't tried any other options such as utilizing the FMLA, working part time, switching jobs , ADA accomadations at her current job etc.  Thngs like disability play mental games with you and can have a devesting effect on future outlook so I really believe the decision to file must be considered very very carefully and only as a last resort
You can still return to work even if you get approved for ssdi.  It is not a permenant situation if she does not want it to be.  And the attorney and that I have been working with and my case worker says yes they do factor in your children.  I am not saying that EVERYONE doesn't have something in their lives, that is a given.  But I don't know if you realize how difficult it is to also have very young children.  I also had them before I new I had ra.  [QUOTE=buckeye] She hasn't tried any other options such as utilizing the FMLA, working part time, switching jobs , ADA accomadations at her current job etc. [/QUOTE]
As I understand it, working part time, working fewer hours or switching to a lower-paying job will affect the benefit amount you receive under SSDI when you finally have to apply.  So this may not be a good idea for many people.
Also, it is not possible to use FMLA or get ADA accommodations if you have already been fired.  You can ask for ADA accommodations if you get a new job, but you have to find someone to hire you first.
Only Audrey after evaluating her situation, can decide whats best for her.  She has gotten a lot of information and advice that hopefully will be of help to her.  I just wanted to point out that SSI isn't very much, but she's said she's applying for SSDI, and receiving a fixed benefit amount isn't an issue as she's married, and her husband pays the bills.  And yes if she's approved for SSDI, she can always go off it if she gets better, but she may have to disclose that on a job application and that could affect her hiring.  There's a lot to consider when going out on disability.
Buckeye, I think you're being a bit too harsh and judgmental.  If you have read the original post and the ones I've posted prior to this one like you said you had then you wouldn't have made some of your comments.  I was FIRED from my previous employer back in November of 2006 for too many sick days, I was suffering with RA then, my doctor just hadn't pin-pointed it yet.  Sooooo, FMLA and disability through my job is obviously impossible since I'm no longer working there.  Also, I haven't "given up", I just want to receive SOME money while trying to find a suitable treatment for me and SSDI will go back as far as 1 year from the date of filing if they see fit.  I also stated on my application that I wasn't seeking permanent disability, that I fully intended to work again as soon as I could gain control over my life again.  So before you're so quick to judge, maybe you should ask a few more questions to make an informed post.The only thing I can add that I haven't seen yet is do a daily diary - my attorney & Dr. suggested this when I was in the midst of applying for SSDI.  I know it's really hard to do when you're in pain and can't imagine getting out of bed, but find a way to document what your life has become with RA.  I also had my mom, husband, friends etc. write letters expressing what they had seen took me 3 years to get awarded, but persistence is the key!!!  Good Luck, lots of hugs