OSTEOARTHRITIS AND SSD BENEFITS
WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of your bones wears away. When the cartilage wears away, you feel pain and stiffness in your joints. You may also experience swelling and burning in your joints.
Eventually, muscle weakness and reduced range of joint motion occurs. While osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, it most often is found in the hands, hips, knees, and spine. If you have ankylosing spondylitis and need more information read here.
The weight bearing joints are the most common areas of pain. If your osteoarthritis is severe, then you may need surgery. For example, you might need a hip replacement. Find out more here about hip replacement surgery and SSD benefits.
Osteoarthritis can also affect you ability to use your knees. It can prevent you from climbing stairs, standing, and even sitting for long periods. It may also require surgery. Learn more here about winning benefits due to knee replacement surgery. Also, if you need information about rheumatoid arthritis, go here.
OSTEOARTHRITIS QUALIFIES FOR SSD BENEFITS
If you have osteoarthritis, you are not alone. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 27 million Americans. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 32.5 million adults in the US (which is about 15% of the adult population) have some form of arthritis. Most people over age 60 have osteoarthritis to some degree. However, few people qualify for benefits for pain alone.
Disability occurs when arthritis symptoms reach the point of keeping your from walking or using your hands for tasks such as typing. Additionally, osteoarthritis in the lumbar spine (low back) can make it impossible to work at jobs that require the ability to lift, carry, sit, stand or stoop. When you cannot perform simple tasks, such as climbing up stairs or standing for more than 5 minutes in the shower, chances are good you can’t work either.
THE SYMPTOMS OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
Many people have some form of osteoarthritis, particularly if they are older. However, most people are still able to work, because their arthritis is not severe. But over time, you will know if you have severe osteoarthritis because you will not be able to use your joints without severe pain.
If you have osteoarthritis that impairs your ability to work, then you may experience the following symptoms:
- Joint pain: Joint pain that feels like a deep ache and can worsen with movement.
- Stiffness: Your joints may feel stiff, especially after periods of rest. Morning stiffness is also common and can last for 30 minutes up to an hour.
- Limited range of motion: This is the reduced ability to move the your joint through its full range of motion. This problem can affect daily activities such as bending, walking, or climbing stairs.
- Swelling: In some cases, osteoarthritis can cause swelling around the joint. This often occurs along with warmth and sometimes redness of the skin.
- Unstable joints: As osteoarthritis gets worse your joint may become unstable, leading to a feeling of the joint giving way. This can increase the risk of falls and injury.
- Grating or clicking sounds: You may hear grating, clicking, or cracking of your joints. These sounds are called crepitus. It is caused by the rough surfaces of the joint rubbing against each other.
- Bone spurs: Osteoarthritis can result in bone spurs around the affected joint. Bone spurs can cause joint pain and further restrict your movement.
If you have one or all of these symptoms, then you need to see a doctor. Your doctor can treat you for the chronic pain that comes from osteoarthritis.
CAUSES OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
There are several factors that increase the risk for getting osteoarthritis.
Some people have a genetic defect in one of the genes responsible for making collagen. Because collagen is a major component of cartilage, they suffer from defective cartilage. This defect leads to rapid degeneration of your joints.
Some people are born with an abnormality of the spine, such as spinal scoliosis. If you have scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine, then you will be more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the spine.
Obesity increases your risk of getting osteoarthritis. If you are able to maintain a healthy weight, it will put less stress on your joints. Losing excess weight can help you avoid osteoarthritis. It can also decrease the progression of osteoarthritis that has already started.
INJURY AND OVERUSE
Injuries can cause the development of osteoarthritis. For example, if you fall and injure your hip, knee, or back, then there is a greater chance of osteoarthritis at the injury site later in life.
Additionally, overuse of your joints can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. For example, if you type at work, you may use your hands constantly. Because of constant hand use, you may develop carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. Additionally, some jobs require repeated knee bending increase the risk for knee arthritis. Likewise, jobs that require repeated use of the hands or shoulders, such as factory work, can increase the chances of deterioration in those joints.
HOW DOES A DOCTOR DIAGNOSE OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Your doctor may use X-rays to confirm your osteoarthritis diagnosis. The doctor will also want to rule out other types of arthritis. X-rays will show how much joint damage your have.
Also, if you have excess fluid in your joints, your doctor may remove some fluid. This is called a joint aspiration. Once the fluid is removed, your doctor will examine it under a microscope to rule out other diseases. There is no blood test to diagnose osteoarthritis. However, your doctor may perform some blood tests in order to rule out other types of medical conditions.
TREATMENT FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS
Osteoarthritis is usually treated by reducing stress on the joints. This can be done with losing weight and avoiding painful activity. Typically, your doctor will prescribe pain medications and tell you to apply ice or heat to your painful joints.
Some doctors use joint injections to help with pain. Medications for pain are also helpful. Glucosamine chondroitin is a supplement that you can take for osteoarthritis. Also, many people take over the counter pain pills, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. Ask you doctor to find a medication that is right for you.
Exercise is also a good way to improve joint movement and to strengthen the muscles around joints. Most doctors suggest gentle, low impact exercises. For example, swimming or walking are good low impact exercises. These types of exercise are less painful and more healthy for your joints.
Additionally, your doctor may tell you to do physical therapy. A physical therapist can provide exercises to improve joint mobility and reduce pain. They may also suggest the use of helpful devices such as a cane, braces, or splints to support your joints.
Finally, if conservative measures don’t work, then you may need surgery. Surgery can range from arthroscopy to repair or remove damaged cartilage to joint replacement surgery, such as total knee or hip replacement.
WINNING SSD & SSI BENEFITS FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS
After you submit your application, Social Security sends your file to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. Next, a claims worker requests and reviews your medical records. They may then call you for an interview or send you more paperwork. They may also send you to a free exam from one of their doctors for your osteoarthritis. Find out more about a free SSA doctor exam here.
If the SSA sends you to a free exam with one of their doctors, make sure that you bring the things that you use to help you walk or sit. For example, bring your cane or walker to the exam. Also, if you use a brace for your back or other part of your body, then wear it. Finally, remember that at the exam you could be under investigation.
When the claims worker has enough information, Social Security will make a decision about your benefits and notify you by mail. This normally takes three to four months at each stage of the appeal process. But, it can take longer.
If you receive a denial letter or you think your case is strong enough to win on appeal, consider calling an SSD lawyer with years of experience. People who go to a Social Security hearing with a lawyer have a better chance of winning their benefits than those who represent themselves.
SSD BENEFITS UNDER SSA’S LISTING 1.17
The SSA uses a list of medical conditions to determine if you should be paid benefits. If you have all of the symptoms on the list, then you can “meet” the listing. The SSA will compare your symptoms to those on the list to determine if you meet the rules. The following listing 1.17 is one that the SSA might use to determine your benefit status.
Listing 1.17 – Reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint, documented by A, B, and C:
INABILITY TO AMBULATE IS CRUCIAL TO WINNING BENEFITS
As you can see from listing 1.17, the SSA’s rules focus on the ability to walk without assistance after a hip replacement operation. The SSA is looking at whether you need a walker, two canes or crutches. If you need these assistive devices, then you must use both hands on the device in order to walk.
If you cannot keep your balance without the use of a walker or the use of two crutches, then it is likely you meet the listing. Therefore, you would be paid benefits by meeting listing 1.17.
SSD BENEFITS FOR JOINT DYSFUNCTION – LISTING 1.18
Another listing that the SSA uses to determine if they should pay you benefits is Listing 1.18. If you have osteoarthritis in your hips, knees, ankles, or shoulders you might meet the listing for abnormality of a major joint.
Listing 1.18 focuses on abnormal motion or major joint instability. However, to meet the listing, you need more than pain and limited motion in a major joint, like the hip. You must also meet the durational criteria. In other words, the symptoms must keep you from working for more than 12 months.
Additionally, you must also have issues with balance and walking. You will need to use, for example, two canes or a walker in order to assist you in walking. Other examples of joint issues are below:
Listing 1.18 Abnormality of a major joints in any extremity, documented by A, B, C, and D:
A. Chronic joint pain or stiffness.
B. Abnormal motion, instability, or immobility of the affected joint(s).
C. Anatomical abnormality of the affected joint(s) noted on:
1. Physical examination (for example, subluxation, contracture, or bony or fibrous ankylosis); or
2. Imaging (for example, joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis or arthrodesis of the affected joint).
D. Impairment related physical limitation of musculoskeletal functioning that has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and medical documentation of at least one of the following:
1. A documented medical need for a walker, bilateral canes, or bilateral crutches, or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands; or
2. An inability to use one upper extremity to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work related activities involving fine and gross movements, and a documented medical need for a one handed, hand held assistive device that requires the use of the other upper extremity or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of one hand; or
3. An inability to use both upper extremities to the extent that neither can be used to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work related activities involving fine and gross movements.
OSTEOARTHRITIS AND RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY LIMITATIONS
If you have osteoarthritis but you don’t meet the SSA’s rules, then the Social Security Administration will look at your “residual functional capacity” or “RFC.” The SSA will assess your RFC to determine what kind of work you can still due despite your physical problems.
OSTEOARTHRITIS IN YOUR LEGS:
If your arthritis affects your legs, knees, or your lumbar spine, then you are likely having trouble walking, standing, and climbing stairs. You also may have problems when you kneel, stoop, and squat.
If that is the case, your RFC may limit you to no more than sedentary work. Sedentary work is desk work or seated work. Work where you need to sit up to six hours in an eight hour work day. Typically, in seated work, you are not required to lift more than 10 pounds. The problem with seated work is that due to osteoarthritis, you may not be able to sit for so many hours. Likewise, you may have trouble walking the other two hours of the workday.
OSTEOARTHRITIS IN YOUR ARMS:
Osteoarthritis in your elbows, shoulders, or hands, can impair your RFC. Many jobs require you to lift, type, write, pull, or grab and twist objects. If you cannot perform these work tasks due to your osteoarthritis, then you may not be able to work at any job. The same is true if you have neck pain. To learn more about SSD benefits for neck pain, read here.
If you are over 50 years old, the SSA should pay you benefits if you cannot use your hands on more than an occasional basis and you are also limited to sedentary work. The reason for that is even if you could perform a skilled desk job, if you cannot use your hands all day, then you cannot do the job. Find out more about the Medical Vocational Guidelines here.
WE HELP WIN YOUR OSTEOARTHRITIS BENEFITS
If you cannot work due to osteoarthritis, then Cannon Disability Law can help you apply for SSD and SSI benefits. Also, we can help you appeal an SSA denial. Additionally, we will represent you in court at your hearing. We will help you be a witness in your case. If necessary, we can appeal your case to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is an appeal board that reviews cases throughout the entire country. Find out more here about the Appeals Council.
Likewise, we file appeals in Federal Court. Also, we can represent you no matter where where you live. For example, we can represent you if need an SSA attorney in Utah or Nevada. Additionally, we can help you if you live in Idaho, Colorado, or California.
Your ability to receive Medicaid and Medicare depends upon whether or not you are successful with your benefits case. You are going to need health insurance to care for your health.
In order to fight the SSA’s denials, you need a lawyer with experience. Hire us. Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of legal experience winning SSD payments. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI hearings. You can trust us. We will do everything we can to help you win your SSD and SSI benefits.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSD & SSI BENEFITS
You do not have to obtain benefits for osteoarthritis on your own. We can help file your SSD and SSI application. Also, we can help you through the stages of appeal during the Social Security process. That way, you can focus on your health. Our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Request review if you receive an initial denial from DDS
- Help you confirm your Consultative Exam
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question expert witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here.
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here.
- Request review of a decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for SSD benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. You submit your application online. After that, the SSA sends you a summary of your application in the mail.
In order for your application to be complete, you must sign the summary and mail it back to them. Additionally, once you receive a denial from the SSA, you have 60 days to file an appeal of SSA’s decision. You must not fail to meet the time limit set by the SSA. If you miss it, you may not be able to start over.
HOW WILL YOU PAY THE ATTORNEY FEE?
We will use our legal skills to help you through the SSA appeal process. It is our goal to win your osteoarthritis benefits. But, it also our goal to make filing for SSD benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. If you call, then there is no pressure to become a client. You can simply ask questions. We will answer. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.
It also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. If we win your benefits, then you pay us out of your past due payment. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee.
How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit. Also, there is a fee cap set at $7200 by the SSA. However, you never pay more than the fee cap at the hearing stage of your case. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay whatever is the lesser amount and only if we win the case. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by hiring the legal team with the most experience, Cannon Disability Law.
THE COST WHEN YOU DON’T HIRE THE RIGHT LAWYER
What will it cost you if you don’t hire a lawyer with the legal experience to win your benefits? For example, if you win benefits at 50 years old, then you will be paid for the next 17 years. You may also win two of years of past due benefits. On the line, if you are 50 years old, is 19 years of SSD payments.
Nineteen years is is 228 months. At $1200 a month (which is a lower than average monthly benefit amount), that is $273,600. Additionally, you will win a higher retirement benefit after the age of 67. Let’s say the average higher retirement benefit is $300 a month and you live to be 90 years old. That is another $82,800.
It costs 25% of your back benefit OR $7200 from your back benefit to pay your attorney. You pay us whatever is less and only if you win. If you win your case, then your attorney has just won you $356,400, plus early Medicare benefits. You attorney will be paid $7200 and you will be paid $349,200.
All attorneys charge the same fee. So, you can go it alone and not hire an attorney, but chances are you will lose $356,400. Or, you can hire an attorney with over 30 years of experience. If you win benefits, then you will pay $7200. However, you will also win $349,200. The choice is yours. But, we hope you can see that the cost of a lawyer with over 30 years of legal experience is well worth it for you.
CONTACT US FOR A FREE REVIEW OF YOUR BENEFITS
If there are costs in your case, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Usually, the only cost you will have is if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records. If so, then that is your bill to pay.
There are costs in every case. You will owe the costs in your case whether we win or lose your case. However, your attorney fees come from your back benefit. You only pay an attorney fee if we win your case. You owe no attorney fee if we do not win benefits for you. To learn more about attorney fees read here.
Hiring an attorney with experience to represent you in your case is the best thing you can do to help yourself. Contact us today and take advantage of our free review of your case. We want to be your legal team and help you win benefits for osteoarthritis.
OUR SSD ATTORNEYS WANT TO WORK FOR YOU
If you need help winning your osteoarthritis benefits, you have found the right law firm. You can learn more about the attorneys at our law firm on our About Us page.
For example, you may want to know that Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win Social Security cases for over thirty years. Additionally, Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.
In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our experts can help you file for SSI benefits using the SSA’s website. However, we will need your help to apply for SSI benefits. Why? Because only you know your personal financial information. SSI benefits require you to have minimal assets and monthly income.
Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms that will need to be filled out. Don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call us today for help winning your SSD benefits for osteoarthritis.