I am often asked whether having a certain medical condition qualifies a person for Social Security disability benefits. My answer is always the same: It depends on how that condition affects you. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has very specific rules regarding this, so it is important that you work with an experienced disability lawyer to determine if you might be eligible for benefits.
According to SSA regulations, if you have arthritis or joint dysfunction and cannot “ambulate effectively” you may be considered disabled under the musculoskeletal listings. The phrase “ambulate effectively” is a legal term that is specifically defined under SSA regulations. It means that you have an extreme limitation in your ability to walk. A little difficulty walking is not enough to prevent you from ambulating effectively. You must have an impairment that seriously interferes with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities.
SSA regulations define “ambulate effectively” as being capable of sustaining a reasonable walking pace over a sufficient distance to be able to carry out activities of daily living and having the ability to travel without companion assistance to and from a place of employment or school. People who can “ambulate effectively” can walk without the use of a cane, walker or other hand-held assistive device.
If you fall into any of the following categories, you may not be able to ambulate effectively: Read More→
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a debilitating condition. You may have to deal with problems such as pain, loss of movement, difficulty walking and/or difficulty using your hands, to name a few. It can be depressing. But I just read a terrific article in the Washington Post written by a rheumatoid arthritis survivor. It is so positive and upbeat it made me smile! As a former nurse I know the importance of a positive mental attitude in dealing with chronic disease. But the author also made a very important point about dealing with this condition – “Do not hesitate to ask for help; it is not weakness.” That applies to Social Security disability benefits too. I find that clients who have worked hard all of their lives frequently have difficulty admitting that they cannot do it anymore and are reluctant to seek disability benefits. But that is just what disability is for – to help you when you just can’t do it anymore. It is not a sign of weakness if you apply for disability. To learn what it takes to get disability benefits, go to my website to order a free copy of my book, Sharon Christie’s Unofficial Guide to Social Security Disability Claims.