Social Security Disability – Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disabling condition for Social Security Disability (SSI, SSDI). Woodstock, Georgia Attorney.

Disabling Condition: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – Condition, Symptoms and Social Security Disability

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder which results from the body’s own immune system attacking the membranes surrounding the joints and causing them to become inflamed. Hands, feet, knees, hips and shoulders are joints commonly effected by RA. The symptoms may include stiff or swollen joints, joint pain, fatigue and fever. Bumps or tissue growths are sometimes present. RA is progressive in nature and can eventually cause permanent deformity and/or misalignment of joints. It can also result in inflammation of and damage to you internal organs.

When rheumatoid arthritis severely effects your ability to function and to be gainfully employed, you may be entitled to receive income and medical benefits through Social Security.

Medical basis for claim

Social Security disability examiners and administrative law judges use the Listings of Impairments manual (“Blue Book”) as their guide to determine whether a claimant meets or does not meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for total disability. Rheumatoid arthritis does not have its own separate listing in the Blue Book. It is classified under Immune System Disorders Listing 14.00 as part of the sub-listing for Inflammatory Arthritis found in Listing 14.09. It contains a description of the limitations or disabilities necessary for you to qualify under the medical listing for rheumatoid arthritis as evidenced by one of the following:

A. Persistent inflammation or deformity

Of one or more major weight-bearing joints resulting in an inability to ambulate (walk) effectively, or

Of one or more peripheral joints in each upper extremity resulting in an inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively; or

B. Inflammation or deformity of one or more major peripheral joints with involvement of one organ or body systems to a moderate or severe level and at least two symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise or involuntary weight loss); or

C. Ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthropathies; or,

D. Repeated manifestations of inflammatory arthritis with at least two constitutional symptoms or signs (severe fatigue, fever, malaise or involuntary weight loss) with marked limitations of at least one of the following: 1. activities of daily living, maintaining social functions or ability to complete tasks due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence or pace.

Even if an individual does not show that his or her impairments meet the criteria of these listings, the individual may have an impairment(s) equivalent in severity to one of the listed impairments or be disabled because of a limited residual functional capacity. If the claimant’s medical condition(s) do not meet or exceed the Listings, SSA will then seek to determine if the impairment(s) causes severe limitations on your ability to perform gainful employment. Your medical records showing your treatment history, the length of time of treatment and how you have responded to the medical treatment will be reviewed. The history of your illness is important since RA is most always a disease that progresses in severity over time.

Residual Functional Capacity limitations

A Residual Functional Capacity Assessment (RFC) may be performed to access your physical and/or mental limitations as part of the effort to determine whether the disability limits you so much that you are unable to work. Many factors go into a determination that a claimant lacks the functional capacity to work. For claimants suffering from RA, these can include a claimant’s ability to lift or carry products, to use his/her hands for fine manipulation of objects, to reach overhead, to bend or to stoop. Other factors like a claimant’s need to alternate frequently between sitting or standing, need to take rest breaks from working, or limitations on ability to walk or stand can limit one’s functional ability in the workplace.

In addition to other evidence, the RFC is used by the vocational expert and by the hearing judge to evaluate what types of jobs and what level of job activity (full duty, light duty, sedentary) are appropriate for the claimant, and may be used to support a finding that the claimant is disabled and entitled to benefits. Your age, level of education and type of past employment (skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled, etc.) will also be considered. For the older claimant, these factors may substantially impact a finding that one is disabled by the consideration of the Medical-Vocational Grids and the claimant’s functional capacity.


Pain is unfortunately often a part of everyday life for someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Where a claimant experiences frequently recurring or chronic pain then this may an additional basis for a finding that the claimant is disabled and entitled to benefits. For additional information no pain and chronic pain see FAQ’s: Disabling Conditions – Pain and Chronic Pain.


When rheumatoid arthritis results in serious difficulty in walking, using your hands, bending, or performing other common physical activities, and results in your inability to continue working, an experienced attorney familiar with Social Security disability law can help you protect your rights and can help you get the benefits you deserve. We have the knowledge, experience and skill to assist you in dealing with the process of obtaining help from these Social Security benefits programs. We represent disabled individuals in SSA Disability claims throughout Georgia including Acworth, Alpharetta, Canton, Cartersville, Duluth, Dallas, Johns Creek, Marietta, Rome, Roswell and Woodstock Contact us today to discuss your situation and the Social Security benefits you are entitled to receive.


Keywords: Social Security Disability, SSI, SSDI, Rheumatoid Arthritis, RA, attorney, Woodstock, Georgia, Kennesaw, Canton