Proving Arthritis-Based Disability

Proving Arthritis-Based Disability The Arthritis Foundation estimates that up to 2.1 million Americans are affected by rheumatoid arthritis.  The incident is higher after age 50 and can affect the whole body.  The severity of rheumatoid arthritis can be proven by statements from your doctors and how they affect your functional limitations.  Often, if severe enough, it precludes most competitive employment which would permit one to be eligible for social security disability

Must I be disabled for a year to apply?

No. If you believe your disability will last a year or longer, apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. The rules for eligible for disability benefits require that you have been disabled for one year or more or that your condition will likely last one year or more. Consequently, you do not have the full year before you apply.

Can Social Security Benefits be garnished?

For most types of debt, including credit cards, medical bills and personal loans, social security cannot be garnished to pay the debt.  There are certain debts, however, that social security can be garnished to pay for.  Those debts include federal taxes, federal student loans, child support and alimony and other federal debts.

Access to the Hearing Office and ID

It was recently reported that individuals have not been able to attend their social security disability hearing because SSA hearing office personnel have denied individuals access to the hearing office as a result of insufficient identification.  Although SSA hearing office personnel should not deny an individual access to the hearing office because of insufficient identification, an individual attending a hearing either as a claimant or witness should bring proper identification to the hearing office such as a current driver’s license, State ID, or certified birth certificate.   If you are denied access to the hearing office because of insufficient ID, you should politely ask to speak with the hearing office manager.

Fractures of an Upper Extremity

In some cases, SSA will award disability benefits as a result of an upper extremity non-union (non-healing) fracture such as the humerus radius or ulna.  Most fracture claims of the upper extremity that SSA evaluates are the result of trauma such as a motor vehicle accident.  Upper extremity fractures may also be associated with weakness of bones as a result of disease such as a tumor. SSA has special rules in evaluating this type of impairment.  Essential to winning benefits as a result of a fracture to an upper extremity is ongoing care of a surgeon who his attempting to treat a non-healed fracture.  These types of cases can be difficult to win disability benefits and it is recommended that consideration be given to retaining an attorney who has experience with social security disability cases.

Fractures of the Tibia, Pelvis or One or More of the Tarsal Bones

In some cases, SSA will award disability benefits as a result of a lower extremity non-union (non-healing of the bone) fracture involving such bones as the tibia, pelvis or oneor more of the tarsal bones.  Most non-union lower extremity fracture claims that SSAevaluates are the result of trauma such as a motor vehicle accident.  Lower extremity non-union fractures may also be associated with weakness of bones as a result of disease suchas a tumor. SSA has special rules in evaluating this type of impairment.  Essential towinning benefits as a result of a fracture to a lower extremity is the inability to return tofunctional ambulation and duration.  Cases involving non-union fractures of the lowerextremity  can  be  difficult  to  win  disability  benefits  and  it  is  recommended  thatconsideration be given to retaining an attorney who has experience with social securitydisability cases.

Amputation and Social Security

About 85% of amputations are of the lower extremity and most often necessitated by arterial vascular disease (PVD).  After vascular disease, injury accounts for the greatest number of amputations.  Amputations can also be caused by cancer, infection and congenital limb deformities  The two major lower limb amputations are referred to as below the knee amputations and above the knee amputations.  SSA has specific rules in deciding whether an individual is disabled as a result of an amputation of either the upper extremities or lower extremities. In lower extremity amputations, three things have to be established.  First, the amputation is in the correct location.  Second, duration has to be satisfied.  Third, it must be established that ineffective ambulation exists.  Also, it may be necessary to establish that there is an inability to use a prosthesis.   Amputation cases can be difficult to win disability benefits and it is recommended that consideration

Disorders of the Spine

The spine (vertebral column) consists of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx.   There are many causes of a disorder of the spine including disease, trauma and congenital deformity.  Types of disorders of the spine include but are not limited to the following:  osteoarthritis (OA), degenerative disease, herniated disc (herniated nucleus pulposus), osteoporosis, tumors, arachnoiditis, lumbar strain, Spina Bifida, spondylolisthesis, and stenosis.  SSA has special rules in awarding benefits for this type of impairment.  These types of cases can be difficult to win disability benefits and it is recommended that consideration be given to retaining an attorney who has experience with social security disability cases.

Obesity and Social Security Disability Benefits

Many years ago, an individual could receive disability benefits because of obesity. Thelaw changed and obesity is no longer an impairment qualifying someone for benefits.Today,  SSA considers  obesity  as  one  factor  out  of  many  in  evaluating  a  claim  fordisability  benefits.  For  example,  if  an  individual  suffers  from a  weight  bearing jointimpairment such as osteoarthritis in one or both knees,  obesity may contribute to theinability to stand/walk because of the pressure on the knees.  SSA determines obesitybased on an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and relies on special rules for guidancein evaluating obesity.  If you suffer from one or more impairments and are obese, youshould consult with an attorney who is familiar with SSA’s special rules

Hip Pain and Social Security Disability

There are many causes of chronic hip pain that may impact an individual’s ability to work. Some causes of chronic hip pain are:  degenerative disease (damage to one or both hips) osteoarthritis, hip fracture, traumatic injury. Because SSA considers a hip a weight bearing joint, obesity may also impact the severity of a hip impairment. Although hip replacement can be an option to treat a hip impairment in some situations, this type ofsurgery is an aggressive form of treatment and doctors generally want to avoid this type of surgery as long as possible. SSA recognizes that an individual may be entitled to social security disability benefits based on a severe hip impairment.  SSA has special rules that SSA uses to evaluate a hip impairment.  For example, if SSA determines that an individual’s hip impairment meets or equals one of the Listing criteria found in Section 1.00 of SSA’s special rules,

Polio and Social Security Disability

Post-polio sequelae refers to the documented residuals of acute polioencephalomyelitis(polio) infection as well as other disorders that have an etiological link to either the acutepolio infection or to chronic deficits resulting from the acute infection. Disorders thatmay manifest late in the lives of polio survivors include post-polio syndrome (also knownas the late effects of poliomyelitis), early advanced degenerative arthritis, sleep disorders,respiratory insufficiency, and a variety of mental disorders. Although claims for disabilitybenefits based on polio are rare, such claims do occur on occasion.  SSA recognizes polioas a severe impairment that may entitle an individual to disability benefits.  For guidancein evaluating a claim based on polio, SSA relies on special rules. Because claims forbenefits based on polio are rare and usually are made later in life, it is recommended thatan individual speak with an attorney or representative that has experience in handlingpolio claims.

Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

SSA relies on special rules in evaluating chronic pain.  SSA’s position is that chronic pain is a symptom and no symptom or combination of symptoms can be the basis for a finding of disability, no matter how genuine the individual’s complaints may appear to be, unless there are medical signs and laboratory findings demonstrating the existence of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that could reasonably be expected to produce the symptoms.  In summary, an individual cannot merely allege chronic pain and hope to receive disability benefits.  Chronic pain is a symptom and there must exist an underlying medically determinable impairment (MDI) based on objective medical findings before an award of benefits can be made. An individual seeking disability benefits based on chronic pain should consult with a representative or attorney who is familiar with SSA’s special rules regarding chronic pain.