Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (“RA”) is an inflammatory autoimmune condition typically characterized by inflammation of the joints.  Fortunately, improvements in treatment in recent years have resulted in relief for many people with RA.  However, the expensive infusion treatments that have helped so many people are not available to everyone and do not necessarily help everyone.  If you are suffering from RA, first of all you need to be diagnosed and treated by a rheumatologist.  Only a rheumatologist can properly diagnose this condition, and it is the opinion of a treating rheumatologist that will get you your disability benefits.  It is important that you comply with all recommended treatment to the extent that you are financially able to do so.

If you have sought treatment but continue to suffer from chronic and severe inflammation in your joints, then you could be eligible for disability benefits.  Of course the type and extent of your work related limitations of function will depend on which joints are affected.  It is typical for people with RA to first experience inflammation of the joints in the hands, fingers, feet and ankles.  If you are limited to no more than sedentary work due to the swelling in your feet, but you cannot use your hands more than occasionally during the work day due to the swelling in your hands, then there are probably no jobs for you.  If you cannot use either of your hands at all for either fine or gross manipulations, then there are probably no jobs for you.  If there are no jobs for you, then you are disabled for the purposes of Social Security disability.

Even if the symptoms of your RA are not disabling by themselves, they could contribute to causing you disabling limitations of function when considered together with the symptoms of your other medical conditions.  It is important you point out to your doctor any amount of swelling in your joints, even if your RA symptoms are relatively under control and even if your RA symptoms do not compare to the pain of your arthritis, for instance.  In particular, any limitation in the use of your hands is important in determining your ability to work.  If your joints are swollen, show your doctor.

Any condition that causes chronic pain can also cause depression.  If you are depressed due to the chronic pain caused by your RA, please seek mental health treatment.  A mental health care provider might be able to help you cope with your chronic pain but is also a valuable resource as a person who has observed your difficulties with attention and concentration.  If the chronic pain of your RA is causing you interruptions to your concentration such that you cannot complete even simple tasks in timely manner, then you could be considered disabled on that basis.