According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are over 60 documented types of arthritis in the world today. However, compared to the number of people in the world living with arthritis, it is rather rare for a diagnosis to be severe enough to prevent normal living. Unfortunately, this can make getting disability benefits for arthritis a bit difficult.
If your initial arthritis disability application was denied, you are not alone. Continue below to learn why your application may have been denied, and how you can take your next step towards getting benefits.
Potential Reasons for Arthritis Denial
The Social Security Administration (SSA) compares all disability applications to their corresponding disability entry in their Blue Book. Arthritis is referenced in different parts of the Blue Book, depending on the official diagnosis. However, across the board, the following may be reasons your arthritis application was denied:
- The joints affected by your disorder. For disorders like inflammatory arthritis, one of the biggest factors for approval is the type and severity of joints affected. Arthritis in weight-bearing joints like the knees are considered much more severe and preventative than arthritis in, say, the fingers or elbows. If your arthritis is not shown to affect these weight-bearing joints, it is vital that your paperwork must show evidence of repeated resistance to treatment as well as limitations in daily living, social functioning, or completing normal tasks.
- Medical tests and timing of testing. Getting approval for arthritis requires specific testing in certain areas of the body. MRIs, CT scans, motor function tests, and blood tests are some of the accepted measurements of arthritis. If your medical tests do not show how you're unable to work, then you may have been denied due to lack of evidence. The timing of your tests is important as well — in general, tests over a year old may be difficult for a reviewer to consider, since they are most concerned with your health at the time of application.
Preparing For Your Hearing
For the 65% of applicants whose initial claims are denied, disability hearings are the next step in the benefits process. Because hearings have a rather long waiting list, it is best that you schedule yours as soon as possible — if you need more time later, it can always be rescheduled.
Hearings are held at your nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) which handles all cases that don’t pass the initial application. During a hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will see your case, analyze your evidence, and determine whether or not you qualify for benefits.
During these hearings, it is best to provide as much evidence as you can in support of your condition’s severity. You should use the information provided on your initial application as a jumping off point, but do not only rely on the information you first submitted. New test results, medications, hospitalizations, or testimonies are great additions to a hearing. Another way to increase your chances of getting benefits during a hearing is to speak with a disability attorney.
Contacting a Disability Attorney
Attorneys can feel like a daunting investment in any case. However, if an attorney could make the difference between you getting or not getting benefits, they may be worth looking into. Disability attorneys can organize your information, recommend new pieces of evidence, and build a case for you in court that is statistically shown to increase your chances. Even better, attorneys are required to work on contingency, meaning they cannot take money for their services unless they help you win your case.
Before your disability hearing, consider a free consultation with a disability attorney near you.