If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and your symptoms make it impossible or difficult for you to perform your job duties, our Boston long term disability lawyers will help you with the tedious and complex process of obtaining disability benefits.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of arthritis, which generally impacts your function and mobility resulting in activity limitations. RA is an autoimmune condition that causes:
- Chronic inflammatory polyarthritis (arthritis in five or more joints) that primarily affects the lining of the joints (the synovial membrane) but can affect other organs. This leads to erosion of the cartilage and bone and sometimes, joint deformity. Pain, swelling, and redness are common joint manifestations.
- Premature mortality.
- Disability and compromised quality of life.
Diagnosis within the first six months of RA symptom onset is the key to obtaining treatment that will slow or halt disease progression. Unfortunately, early diagnosis is challenging since early RA symptoms are non-specific (e.g. malaise, fatigue, weakness, muscle soreness, low-grade fever, and weight loss) and could be symptoms for other conditions. Your doctor should order a blood test and use other methods to determine if you have RA.
How RA May Affect You
Many people with RA are unable to continue working because of poorly controlled disease at symptom outset, joint damage, and fatigue. You may find that your RA symptoms make it difficult to type, lift objects, stand for extended periods or move between rooms, affecting your ability to perform your job duties.
Is Rheumatoid Arthritis a Disability?
To obtain disability insurance benefits, you need to file an application, or appeal your initial application if it has been denied. You must prove that your RA prevents you from performing the material functions of your job or, depending on the language of your policy, of any job. If successful, you will be awarded benefits.
Here are some things you can do to strengthen your claim:
- See your doctor. Have a candid discussion with your treating physician regarding any of your limitations that affect your ability to perform your job duties. Your doctor will document these limitations in his or her medical records, associating your limitations with your RA diagnosis. During this discussion, if your doctor agrees that your symptoms prevent you from doing your job, ask for his or her office notes.
- Gather paperwork. Aside from your treating physician’s office notes, you will need additional documentation that will cumulatively show that your disease prevents you from successfully performing your duties. These documents include:
- Medical records from all treating physicians, clinics, hospitals, and caseworkers.
- Narrative reports from your treating physicians detailing your condition and proffering their opinions as to your ability to function in the workplace.
- Radiological and laboratory test results.
- Names and doses of all your medications.
- Employment records including your job description, attendance, and job performance reviews.
- Keep a diary. Detail your symptoms and how they affect your daily living and work performance.
- Obtain witness statements. Obtain statements from family, friends, co-workers and supervisors regarding how your symptoms affect your daily and/or work life.
- Enlist assistance from an experienced long term disability lawyer. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand what evidence insurance companies want, how to gather that evidence, and how to persuasively present that evidence.