Living with rheumatoid arthritis is like living with war: your body’s immune system is attacking your body’s tissues. No one wins, of course. This autoimmune disorder can make it difficult to walk or stand and can also come with pain and fatigue issues that make it impossible to keep working.
For most people unable to work because of rheumatoid arthritis, there are three options: short-term or long-term disability insurance through an employer, or Social Security Disability Insurance. In this post to our Raleigh legal blog, we’re going to take a look at SSDI and its application process.
Rheumatoid arthritis can make it difficult to perform work-related tasks that others might find easy: grabbing or holding items, moving from spot to spot, standing for extended periods, making repetitive motions, and so on. Fatigue can also plague people with rheumatoid arthritis, requiring them to stay home from their jobs and making it difficult or impossible to take on projects that require sustained concentration or effort.
Of course, these difficulties don’t go away just because a person stops working. The complex SSDI application process can be daunting for people struggling with medical issues such as rheumatoid arthritis.
“The most important takeaway is that you have to be a self-advocate with patience and persistence,” said a social worker and patient advocate who works with people who have arthritis and other chronic illnesses. She added that one of the most important things to remember about applying for SSDI is that applicants need to show that their condition prevents them from working, which is a more difficult standard than demonstrating that you cannot keep doing your most recent job.
Applicants also need to present medical documentation of the condition from doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals they have visited for treatment and diagnosis.
It’s not uncommon for initial SSDI claims to be rejected. Applicants have the right to appeal the denial of benefits with the help of an attorney who knows the process and how to present arguments and documentation in an appeals hearing before an administrative law judge.
The attorney wages the fight for SSDI benefits on behalf of the client who is then free to focus on health and wellness.