Woman with Rheumatoid Arthritis holding her hand
By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of Americans. While it primarily causes joint inflammation, it can also lead to disability, making it challenging for individuals to work and maintain a stable income. Thankfully, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Florida offer financial support for those who are unable to work due to this condition. In this guide, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of filing for SSDI or SSI for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Florida, along with how Disability Advocates Group can help you through the process.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. This can lead to chronic inflammation, joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and eventually joint deformities. RA can also affect other body systems, causing fatigue, fever, and a general sense of malaise.

The SSDI and SSI Application Process

To qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits due to Rheumatoid Arthritis in Florida, certain criteria must be met:

  1. Severity: Your symptoms must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability to perform work-related activities.
  2. Duration: Your condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  3. Medical Documentation: Accurate and up-to-date medical records are essential. These records should include a definitive diagnosis, treatment history, and the impact of symptoms on your daily life.
  4. Work Credits: SSDI requires you to have earned sufficient work credits through employment.
  5. Income and Resources: SSI is a needs-based program, so you must meet certain income and resource limits.

Dos and Don’ts of Filing for SSDI or SSI for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dos:

  1. Do Seek Medical Treatment: Consistent medical care from a rheumatologist is critical. Ensure you follow your prescribed treatment plan, take medications as directed, and attend all recommended therapies and appointments.
  2. Do Keep Accurate Records: Maintain a journal of your symptoms, medications, and their effects. This can provide essential evidence of how RA affects your daily life.
  3. Do Get Support from Healthcare Providers: Ask your doctors for detailed medical records and statements that outline the impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis on your ability to work.
  4. Do Consider Legal Representation: Consult with an attorney experienced in SSDI and SSI claims for Rheumatoid Arthritis. They can help build a strong case and guide you through the process.
  5. Do Appeal if Denied: Many RA claims are initially denied. Don’t be discouraged. If denied, pursue the appeals process and, if necessary, attend a hearing.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t Wait to Apply: As soon as you realize you’re unable to work due to RA, start the application process. Delays can result in gaps in benefits.
  2. Don’t Overlook Symptoms: Ensure your application includes all symptoms and limitations associated with RA. Sometimes, individuals underreport their symptoms, which can weaken their case.
  3. Don’t Ignore Medical Advice: Follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and lifestyle changes. Non-compliance can negatively affect your case.
  4. Don’t Assume You Don’t Qualify: Even if you’ve been denied benefits in the past, you may still be eligible. Many successful claims are initially denied.
  5. Don’t Go Through the Process Alone: The SSDI and SSI application process can be complex and overwhelming. Seek legal representation to increase your chances of success.

Working with Disability Advocates Group

Disability Advocates Group has a team of experienced professionals who understand the specific requirements for SSDI and SSI claims related to Rheumatoid Arthritis. They can help ensure your application and documentation are complete and persuasive.

Filing for SSDI or SSI benefits due to Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a challenging process, but it’s essential to secure the financial support you need when RA affects your ability to work. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this guide, and seeking assistance from Disability Advocates Group, you can maximize your chances of a successful application. Remember, you don’t have to go through this process alone. Legal experts specializing in SSDI and SSI claims for Rheumatoid Arthritis can provide invaluable support, helping you navigate the system and access the financial support you deserve.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals in Florida obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.