According to the CDC, South Carolina has the 6th highest rate of arthritis in the nation. While arthritis is commonly diagnosed, it is often poorly understood.
In fact, arthritis is not one disease. Rather, the term arthritis encompasses over 100 different illnesses primarily affecting the joints and musculoskeletal system.
While some forms of arthritis can be a minor annoyance, more severe cases can leave individuals completely debilitated and unable to work. If this is the case for you or someone you love, there is hope!
The South Carolina Division of Healthy Aging promotes several programs aimed at helping those impacted by arthritis.
More, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial assistance to qualified individuals who can no longer work as a result of the severity of their arthritis.
Rheumatologists in South Carolina
While many people with arthritis turn to their primary care doctor to manage their illness, it makes sense to seek the help of a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists are doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to the joints and musculoskeletal system.
These medical experts are specially trained to care for individuals affected by arthritis. Ideally, your rheumatologist will work collaboratively with your primary care physician to give you comprehensive and holistic care.
Establishing a good working relationship with your rheumatologist will not only help your health but also will be important in your quest for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA will look most highly on the opinion of your rheumatologist, as the information provided by medical experts carries the most weight.
Therefore, once you’ve decided to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you will want to have a collaborative discussion with your rheumatologist about your intentions. Together, you may want to review the Blue Book.
The Blue Book is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine which health conditions are severe enough to warrant disability consideration. Included in the Blue Book are medical tests that the SSA will want to see, as well as symptoms that must be present to be considered disabled.
Further, you should consider asking your rheumatologist to complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. While this is not required, it will significantly enhance your application as it allows the SSA to fully understand your health and limitations as related to your arthritis.
If you are not yet working with a rheumatologist, it’s highly recommended that you do so now.
Here are three practices in South Carolina for you to consider:
Low Country Rheumatology
West Ashley Office
2291 Henry Tecklenburg Dr.
Charleston SC 29414
Lexington Medical Park 2
146 East Hospital Drive, Suite 550
West Columbia, SC 29169
Greenville Health System Rheumatology Specialists
155-B Halton Village Circle
Greenville, SC 29607
Arthritis Support Groups in South Carolina
Establishing a support system is essential for anyone facing illness, and it is no different for those with arthritis. Scientific research has illustrated that social support helps to ease the physical symptoms that come along with chronic disease.
Equally important, social support helps to minimize the emotional and mental side-effects that often accompany arthritis. While support can be found in the community and with friends and family, there is great value in joining an arthritis support group.
The Arthritis Foundation has established the Arthritis Support Network (ASN). The ASN provides personalized help and support to adults living with arthritis. While there is not an ASN chapter office in South Carolina, there is still an active support community.
From the “Walk to Cure Arthritis” to local speakers, there are many resources for individuals living with arthritis in South Carolina. There are also online support groups and chapters in near-by states.
For more information on support resources close to you, visit: https://www.arthritisintrospective.org/arthritis-support-network.
Applying for Social Security Disability for Arthritis in South Carolina
Applying for Social Security disability benefits for arthritis in South Carolina begins with determining if you are eligible. SSDI benefits are reserved for individuals with severe and permanent illnesses.
Therefore, if you have had knee problems that have improved as a result of a knee replacement, you are unlikely to be awarded financial assistance. However, if your arthritis has caused chronic pain that leaves you unable to walk without help or has impacted other body systems, the likelihood of approval increases.
The general rule for disability benefits is that you will need to prove that your illness has continued, or is expected to last, for at least one year. As arthritis tends to be a progressive disease, this very well may be the case for you.
As discussed, you will want to review the various sections related to arthritis in the Blue Book. Section 1.00 of the Blue Book addresses health complications of the musculoskeletal system. Section 14.09 covers inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Other relevant sections include 14.10 on Sjögren’s syndrome and 14.02 on systemic lupus erythematosus.
Not all disability candidates will meet a Blue Book listing, and yet they still might be quite ill. Individuals who are unable to work might win a disability award using a medical-vocational allowance.
These candidates will need to demonstrate that their arthritis is so severe that they are unable to work at their current job or at any other job that they are qualified to perform.
If you are ready to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you can easily do so online. Some people prefer to visit a Social Security office, of which there are many in South Carolina.
Three of the larger offices in the state are listed below:
Charleston Social Security Office 29407
1463 Tobias Gadson Blvd.
Charleston, South Carolina 29407
Columbia Social Security Office 29201
1835 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Greenville Social Security Office 29615
319 Pelham Rd
Greenville, SC 29615
Can A Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me for My Arthritis in South Carolina?
No matter the state that you live in, applying for Social Security disability benefits is complicated.
In addition to the various deadlines that must be met, there is a great deal of paperwork and supporting documentation needed. Even the smallest error on your application can lead to a denial.
Perhaps one of the best ways to enhance your chances of winning your claim is to secure the services of an experienced disability lawyer. Attorneys who focus on Social Security disability claims are skilled at helping their clients position themselves in the best light possible.
In addition to helping you navigate the cumbersome application process, your lawyer can speak to your doctors and the SSA on your behalf, leaving you more time to focus on your health.