Living with rheumatoid arthritis can be a challenging and painful task. It also leads to monetary difficulties and complications as far as paying overdue bills and meeting other livelihood expenses are concerned. So, if you are also suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, you may consider filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. There are two programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA)- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which is a work-credit-based federal insurance scheme and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which is a needs-based disability benefits program providing benefits to disabled children/ adults and individuals aged 65 or above. The amount you receive in disability benefits depends on the program(s) you apply for.

How Much Does Disability Pay for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Social Security Disability Insurance disability payments are based on the lifetime average earnings of an individual and will therefore vary from one person to another. As per an estimate by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as of January 2022, disabled workers, and spouses with one or more children receive an average monthly benefit of $2,383. On the other hand, all disabled workers receive an average monthly benefit of $1,358. Some disabled workers receive monthly benefits in excess of the average benefits, whereas other workers receive less than the average monthly benefits.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal base amount for 2022 is $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 per month for a couple.

Qualifying for Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability

The Social Security Administration maintains a Listing of Impairments (also known as the “Blue Book”). It is a list of medical conditions or impairments that are considered serious enough to automatically qualify an individual for disability benefits. The SSA uses this Blue Book to determine if an individual suffers from a disability that prevents them from working.

On the other hand, even if your disability does not meet the SSA Blue Book, you may qualify for disability benefits. You will have to undergo a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment and establish that you are unable to work due to your disability, even though that disability does not figure in the Listing of Impairments.

The SSA Blue Book listing for rheumatoid arthritis disability listing offers sound guidance on how the SSA decides whether you qualify for rheumatoid arthritis disability claims.

Sub-section 14.09 of Section 14.00 for Immune System Disorders in SSA’s Blue Book of Listings mentions Inflammatory Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis disability falls under this category only.

The sub-section reads as under-

General. The spectrum of inflammatory arthritis includes a vast array of disorders that differ in cause, course, and outcome. Clinically, inflammation of major joints in an upper or lower extremity may be the dominant manifestation causing difficulties with walking or fine and gross movements; there may be joint pain, swelling, and tenderness.

The arthritis may affect other joints or cause less limitation in walking or fine and gross movements. However, in combination with extra-articular features, including constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and involuntary weight loss), inflammatory arthritis may result in an extreme limitation.”

Qualifications for meeting the Disability Standard for Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability benefits

The Social Security Administration further provides additional qualifications for deciding whether a claimant is entitled to rheumatoid arthritis disability benefits. These qualifications are subject to the location of inflammation and/ or deformity in two categories- lower extremities and upper extremities.

According to these qualifications, rheumatoid arthritis disability must involve persistent inflammation or a persistent deformity of at least one of the major peripheral joints in the lower extremities to succeed.

Moreover, the rheumatoid arthritis disability claim must also be backed with medical documentation that points out a need for an assistive device or an inability to use one upper extremity for work purposes. Therefore, the medical records must establish and strictly prove two facts-

  • Significant impairments in both upper and lower extremities.
  • A causal connection between the impairments and the restriction on the ability to work.

Even if rheumatoid arthritis disability only affects your upper extremities, you may still qualify for disability benefits. However, in this case, the impact of the disability must be so severe that you are unable to use your hands or arms to do your work. Similarly, if the rheumatoid arthritis disability affects a key organ or body system that results in severe fatigue, fever, or involuntary weight loss, you may successfully claim disability benefits.

Contact NY Disability to win rheumatoid disability benefits

At NY Disability, we have a team of dedicated SSD lawyers and experts who are committed to helping the disabled in every possible way. We can help you win the benefits you truly need and deserve. If you or a loved one is unable to work due to a rheumatoid arthritis disability, contact us today for a free consultation and case review.