According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) represents a qualifying disability for an applicant to receive financial assistance. However, the RA symptoms must be in the advanced stages, which means intense joint pain, stiffness, and/or swelling. Since the SSA denies a majority of disability claims, it is not out of the question that your disability claim comes back denied.
You can improve the chances of having your disability appeal approved by following three tips:
- Include more compelling medical evidence
- Verify your work limitations
- Ask for a free case evaluation
Include More Compelling Medical Evidence
Since RA is considered a progressive disease in which the symptoms get worse over time, the SSA needs to see evidence that your symptoms have made it difficult for you to hold down a job. Submitting detailed records is the key to winning a disability claim.
If you failed to submit persuasive medical documentation with the original claim, you have to ensure your appeal contains all the medical documents the SSA needs to make an informed decision.
Ask your physicians for another physical examination that produces a more comprehensive picture of the pain, stiffness, and/or swelling in your joints. An antibody blood test detects the proteins produced in patients that suffer from RA.
If you can prove your antibody blood test produced a high level of the RA protein, you should strengthen your disability appeal. Undergo more imaging tests to determine the extent of the swelling in your joints. The SSA is interested in the severity of the symptoms, not just confirming the presence of RA.
Verify Your Work Limitations
Not only does the SSA want a disability claim to meet the medical standards that are published in the Blue Book, but the agency also wants proof that verifies your work limitations. If you did not include proof of work limitations with the original claim, the appeals process gives you the opportunity to get it right the second time around.
Ask your rheumatologist to complete an RFC assessment, which measures how much work you can complete in your current condition. For RA, your doctor might ask you to complete several physical maneuvers, such as lifting various objects at different weights.
You can also establish your work limitations by submitting financial and work history records. Your employer can provide you with copies of your paychecks, as well as the timekeeping data that confirm how much time you missed from work.
Another set of important documents are the bank statements that coincide with the days, and weeks, and months that you stayed home to tend to RA symptoms. There should be a clear decline in income demonstrated on your bank statements.
Ask for a Free Case Evaluation
The disability appeals process goes through four stages, with the first stage called reconsideration processed by SSA administrators. You can save yourself a considerable amount of time and frustration by working with a Social Security lawyer during the appeals process.
A Social Security attorney knows exactly what type of medical documentation you need to submit to the SSA. Your lawyer also ensures the SSA hears your appeal in a timely manner.
Most Social Security lawyers offer a free case evaluation to determine which parts of a client’s appeal needs more supporting documentation. Since most Social Security attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, you do not have to spend any upfront money to retain a disability lawyer.