As humans get older, they often have to deal with a wide range of symptoms related to aging. Aches and pains are common, especially first thing in the morning, after a long day or during times of inclement weather.
However, not all aches and pains or discomfort are benign and casual. Sometimes, the persistent pain in your joints is actually related to a more serious condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While arthritis becomes increasingly common in populations as they age, that doesn't decrease the severity of its impact on someone's life.
Rheumatoid arthritis, specifically, can be debilitatingly painful and leave someone unable to work. Those recently diagnosed may need to educate themselves about disability rights, as they may need to file a claim for Social Security Disability in the future.
Many people struggling with RA require disability benefits
Those who think of arthritis as a common part of aging may feel surprised when they learn that it is also correlated with Social Security Disability benefits claims. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, roughly 20 percent of people diagnosed with RA can no longer work within two years of their diagnosis. Five years after a diagnosis, one in three people can no longer work.
The symptoms associated with RA can be quite painful and prevent even the simplest kind of work. Anything from typing to shelving books can exacerbate painful symptoms. RA can also impact flexibility and grip strength, leaving people more likely to drop or break things. Employers may not be forgiving of such issues, even if they stem from a medical condition.
Thankfully, if RA has progressed to the point where an individual can no longer perform acts of daily self-care or their job without complication, they may be able to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
Documentation is key to a successful disability claim
Although you obviously hope to be one of those people whose health remains stable, you should always protect yourself by planning for a worst-case scenario. As soon as your doctor diagnoses your RA, you should start retaining documentation about your condition.
Records from doctors' appointments, notes in a special journal detailing the worst symptoms you experience and notes about problems at work or during acts of self-care can all help you build the grounds for a claim.
Given that it can take many months or even several years to connect with disability benefits, having the documentation you need on hand when it is time to file can streamline the process. You shouldn't have to continue suffering and trying to work when pain overwhelms your life. If you think you may be ready to apply or have more questions about your rights to disability benefits as someone with rheumatoid arthritis, it may be time to talk with an attorney.