Patients with inflammatory arthritis may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their inflammatory arthritis may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify under the conditions of that plan.
What is Inflammatory Arthritis?
Arthritis is a term used to describe a medical condition where a person’s joints are inflamed. Inflamed joints cause stiffness, soreness, and swelling. There are many different types of arthritis, but the two most common forms are inflammatory and noninflammatory.
Non-inflammatory arthritis is known as osteoarthritis (OA). Even though it is called non-inflammatory, it can still result in some inflammation or swelling of the joints. The difference in this type of arthritis is that it results from the breakdown of cartilage. This cartilage is a barrier which covers and protects the ends of bones in the joint. When that cartilage starts to break down, the bones rub against one another and cause pain. This breakdown often occurs when joints are injured, but it also happens as a result of wear and tear. Noninflammatory arthritis is most commonly found in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Inflammatory arthritis is often referred to as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This type of arthritis often causes pain in the joints, but the cause and impact are very different. Inflammatory arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means that it is caused by the immune system. Normally, the immune system protects our health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. But, in the case of inflammatory arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks the tissue that lines the joints resulting in inflammation.
Inflammatory arthritis isn’t limited to the joints. It is a systemic disease since it is capable of affecting your entire body, including your cardiovascular or respiratory systems. If someone with rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t get treated, this autoimmune disease can cause permanent damage.
When Inflammatory Arthritis is a Disability
Inflammatory arthritis is a debilitating condition that often impacts one’s quality of life and ability to work. However, merely receiving a diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis doesn’t automatically translate to being recognized as disabled. Whether you are considered disabled depends on how the condition impedes your regular movements, senses, or job duties. It is assessed based on the specific activities that pose challenges to you, such as:
- Lifting over 10 pounds;
- Grasping small objects;
- Standing or sitting for extended periods; or
- Walking upstairs.
If your inflammatory arthritis limits your ability to perform the duties of your occupation, it is essential that your medical practitioner document these limitations. To be eligible for disability benefits, you need ample evidence that your medical conditions prevent you from working or accomplishing daily activities that you would otherwise manage with ease.
In light of your documented symptoms, the insurance company may develop an RFC for you that states, for example, that due to persistent pain or stiffness, you need to take frequent breaks throughout the day to rest as needed. Because most employers would not accommodate this limitation, it would be difficult for you to obtain and maintain most jobs.
If you suffer from documented joint pain, weakness, or physical deformities from your RA, your RFC may include limitations on certain work-related physical activities as well. For example, the RFC may state that you cannot lift or carry objects that weigh more than 10-15 pounds. This limitation would prevent you from doing jobs that required physical exertion, such as factory work, warehouse work, and most janitorial positions.
Living with chronic pain from inflammatory arthritis can also cause mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. If you are receiving mental health treatment, you should ask your treating physician (your psychiatrist or psychologist), to fill out a mental RFC form that details his or her opinions of your work-related limitations. Keep in mind that the insurance company will assign them weight only if they are supported by objective medical evidence.
Work with a Florida Long-Term Disability Insurance Attorney to Ensure You Get the Benefits You Deserve
Working with an experienced disability attorney will give you the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve for your inflammatory arthritis. Even if you have been denied benefits, that does not mean your fight is over. Many people are denied benefits the first time they apply. You have the right to file an appeal and try to get more information that may help your case. Getting expert help is often the difference between being denied and being approved for benefits.
While the process can be daunting, your experienced disability attorney will be able to guide you through the process. They do not get paid until you win your case. You can seek help without worrying about upfront costs or unexpected bills.
The Ortiz Law Firm has successfully represented people in disability cases across the United States. If you would like to talk to an experienced disability lawyer about your inflammatory arthritis and its impact on your ability to work, call us at (888) 321-8131. We would be happy to evaluate your case and to discuss how to help you through the appeal process.