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Osteoarthritis and Your Rights to Social Security Disability Benefits

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), amount 15 million adults have arthritis or related conditions such as osteoarthritis arthritis.

Unfortunately, having osteoarthritis does not guarantee that you are entitled to disability benefits. Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease of the hands, knees, hips and spine. It primarily effects adults age 55 years or older.

Physical therapy and medication can control the pain osteoarthritis but, joints in your hands, hips or knees become non-functional. Replacement surgery may be the only alternative.

If your doctor has told you that you are unable to work as a result of osteoarthritis, you should remember that the Social Security Administration requires that your osteoarthritis be severe enough to prevent you from working.

The Social Security Administration evaluates osteoarthritis under two body systems, the muscular skeletal and immune systems at Step Three of the Five Step Sequential Evaluation.

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration does not make it easy for those with osteoarthritis to get Social Security Disability benefits. As a result, individuals rarely are granted Social Security Disability benefits at the third step of the Five Step Sequential Evaluation.

As a result, the Social Security Administration must determine at Step Four, whether you can return to the lightest job that you have held in the last 15 years. If you can’t, the burden of proof shifts to the Social Security Administration to show that based on your functional limitations there isn’t a job that exists in the national economy based on your age, education or transferable skills that you would be capable of performing.

As a result of these strict requirements, it’s important that you explain to your doctors at every appointment how the limitations imposed by your osteoarthritis impact your ability to function at work. For example, you might have difficultly grasping things or doing fine fingering because of the osteoarthritis of your hands.

You should also tell your doctor at each visit the problems that you are having with pain, swelling, fatigue and even emotional problems that you are having such as anxiety or depression.

The Social Security Administration will evaluate the quality of your doctors’ medical reports and give their medical opinion a controlling weight if the medical records support the doctors’ medical conclusions about your ability to function.

To learn more about your rights to Social Security Disability benefits as a result of osteoarthritis, call the Law Office of Nancy Cavey at 727.894.3188 for a free Social Security Disability eligibility evaluation.