In some cases, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers may qualify to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. RA is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the tissues of the synovial joints. It leads to swelling, stiffness, and inflammation. In severe cases, RA causes deformity of the affected joints by damaging the soft tissues and eroding the bones. Fingers and toes can become swollen, crooked, and curled. RA may also affect larger joints like knees, elbows, and shoulders, and it can inflame the membranes around the lungs and the heart.
Apart from the daily suffering of joint inflammation, some RA victims suffer sporadic flares when the pain radically increases and affects large joints, especially the knees. RA flares can be virtually incapacitating. Seek immediate treatment from a rheumatologist if you believe you have RA. Untreated RA will eventually destroy the soft tissues and the bones of the affected joints. While as yet there is no cure for RA, and the disease is not yet well understood, effective treatments are available to manage the pain caused by the disease.
Typically, the Social Security Administration provides SSD benefits only in the most severe cases of RA, when the disease has caused visible, physical deformity. Most RA sufferers who receive SSD benefits continued working for several years subsequent to the onset of the disease and stopped only when advanced RA caused frequent, unpredictable flares or severe physical impairment. Eventually, manual labor becomes virtually impossible for RA sufferers, while others whose work is less physical may remain employed for a period of time.
If you are suffering from RA, first seek treatment from a rheumatologist. Your health is your top priority. Secondly, continue working if you can. It takes time to apply and receive approval for SSD benefits, and those with advanced RA are the most likely to be awarded benefits. The Social Security Administration also tends to be more receptive to applicants who can demonstrate a desire to work and who apply for benefits only when employment is no longer a feasible option.
Hiring an experienced disability attorney heightens the likelihood that you will receive SSD benefits. A good disability lawyer will work diligently to speed up the process, so that you can begin receiving your benefits. If you are a victim of RA and you are applying to receive SSD benefits, or even if you are only thinking of applying, speak as quickly as possible to an experienced disability attorney.