is rheumatoid arthritis a disability
Rheumatoid arthritis does qualify for long-term disability benefits as long as it meets SSA’s eligibility requirements.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers rheumatoid arthritis (RA) a qualifying disability, provided it is advanced enough to meet their eligibility requirements.

There may come a time when your RA is so severe that it becomes debilitating and you can no longer work in the office. Studies show that 35 percent of people left their jobs 10 years after their RA diagnosis.

While deciding to stop working might be your toughest decision yet, the stress of staying at your job despite being unable to work due to your condition could make you prone to depression.

Because of your rheumatoid arthritis, you may qualify for long-term disability benefits, but only if you fall under certain terms and conditions.

What will you need to qualify for RA disability benefits?

First, to receive Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits, you will need to obtain a certificate from the government for your disability due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For this certificate, your RA symptoms should be so severe that they must significantly limit your ability to do basic work, such as lifting, walking and even standing. Additionally, your condition has to affect your life so much that you can’t perform your job, as well as any other job.

To qualify for disability benefits, your RA has to be severe enough to keep you out of work for at least 12 months, and you must also have enough work credits.

The entire process will need documentation from your rheumatologist in the form of the following:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • Blood tests
  • Results of physical examination
  • A history of your treatment and results
  • A medical history that shows the duration and progression of your RA
  • Pictures of the affected body parts that depict the disability

Increase your chances of receiving disability benefits by enlisting the help of the following professionals:

  • Vocational specialist or physical therapist for your physical capacities evaluation
  • Psychologist or psychiatrist if you have depression or anxiety due to RA

Learn more about the process and list of required items by visiting, which is the official government website for the SSA. You can also consult a disability lawyer or an advocate to ease the entire disability application process and increase your chances of qualifying for your benefits.

Expect to receive the results of your disability application generally in three to five months, though it may take more than one application to get qualified. If your request for disability benefits is rejected, you can appeal the decision by seeking help from an attorney.

How can you make your workplace comfortable while living with RA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act entitles you to receive multiple benefits from your employer, such as flexible work hours or the option to work from home.

Moreover, you can also ask about getting specific office items as provided in the list of recommendations by the U.S. Labor Department's Job Accommodation Network. Discuss with your employer about making these arthritis-friendly modifications at your workplace, including:

  • A phone with large buttons and a headset
  • An ergonomic keyboard and chair
  • Thicker, cushioned pens
  • Desk height adjustments if you use a wheelchair
  • Arm supports and writing and grip aids

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Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2021
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