APPLYING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY
I am a former social security examiner who has reviewed knee disability cases over many years and understand the important information needed to evaluate claims. Applying for disability can be a very confusing, time consuming and frustrating experience. My ebook, “How To Get Disability For Knee Problems” is available as an instant download and can answer all of your questions regarding getting benefits for knee problems.
Listen to an audio sample of the book here:
Social security defines disability as an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity(work) due to a medical impairment. In addition, you must have a severe impairment which must last at least 12 months. Applications can be obtained at your local social security office or online at www.socialsecurity.gov. The phone number for social security is 1-800-772-1213.
HOW DOES KNEE PAIN AFFECT HOW LONG YOU CAN WALK
Regardless of the cause of your knee pain, whether it is due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, an old injury, a torn meniscus or cartilage, fracture of the knee or knee replacement surgery, the main issue the state considers after reviewing all your medical evidence is how long you can stand and walk over an 8 hour period and if a medical device such as a cane is needed for pain and balance. This is the critical question social security wishes to answer.
The knee is the largest weight bearing joint in the body and the most prone to injury than any other joint. Serious injuries often lead to a torn meniscus, torn ligaments or fractures. In addition, the development of arthritis is a very common complication often seen in overweight individuals or simply due to age and wear and tear of the joint. Arthritic changes produce inflammation in the joint resulting in a loss of protective cartilage which acts a cushion leading to bone rubbing on bone causing pain.
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR KNEE DISABILITY
Social security considers your age, level of education and past employment history when evaluating a claim. The decision as to whether you are allowed or denied benefits is made by doctors and disability specialists at the state disability office after they review your entire medical record. After reviewing this information they complete a form called an RFC which stands for residual functional capacity. Basically, this states what you are able to do over an 8 hour day in terms of how many pounds you can lift, how long you can stand and walk and if a cane is needed.
YOUR AGE AND CHANCES FOR AN SSI ALLOWANCE: ON PHYSICAL EXAMINATION IS YOUR GAIT NORMAL OR LIMPING, DO YOU NEED A CANE
Initially, the state will attempt to gather all the medical information from your doctors, but if this evidence is lacking or insufficient, you will be asked to have a general physical examination called a CE that stands for consultative examination which is paid for by the state. If you fail to appear for this examination you will be denied benefits.
During the examination, the doctor will observe the manner in which you walk whether it is normal or limping as well as evaluate the strength in your legs and check the range of motion of your knees. He will then give his assessment as to how long you can walk over a full working day. Generally, the state’s decision as to granting an allowance is somewhat complicated depending on several factors such as your age, level of education and past work history. Younger individuals under 50 years of age require stricter limitations while those over 50 may be granted an allowance with milder limitations, but again level of education and past occupations are considered when making a decision.
KNEE PAIN AFFECTING YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES
The degree of pain is considered in making an evaluation as to how it affects your ability to walk. There is a form provided by the state which allows you to report how pain affects your ability to perform daily activities such as preparing meals, shopping, banking, and doing household chores. Pain in the knees can affect one’s ability to function in a very significant way. Often those with persistent disabling pain will frequently experience depression and anxiety. Therefore, if one should have these symptoms they should also be included when applying for disability.
HAVE YOUR DOCTOR WRITE A LETTER
It would be of great value if your doctor would write a letter stating his reasons why your ability to walk is limited over an 8 hour day and if a cane is medically required. . No one is more capable of giving an opinion as to how pain has affected your ability to walk than your treating doctor. The state often gives great weight to his professional judgement.
REAPPLYING IF DENIED
If your claim is denied you can reapply. It is important that you not delay and should reapply within 60 days. If you are still denied, you can asked to have an administrative law judge called an ALJ review your medical record after which he will give his decision as to whether you are allowed or denied benefits.
There are certain social security rules which the general public is unaware of when applying for disability. These social security rules plus other important information are gone over in great detail in my Ebook which also includes an audiobook for instant download.
THE ADVANTAGE OF USING AN ATTORNEY
Using an attorney familiar with disability cases can be crucial in improving your chances of receiving an allowance since he is familiar with the complex issues involved. It is a great mistake for individuals to represent themselves. Lawyers have the knowledge and experience to assist you from filling out paperwork to handling appeals. He can also help obtain evidence from individuals such as your treating doctor to strengthen your claim. In addition, he can prepare you for questions the administrative law judge may ask you regarding your medical problems. Because the majority of cases can take up to six months to resolve, he can often shorten the time needed by the state to make a decision and improve your chances for approval on your initial application since over 60% of those applying are denied.
What To Do While Waiting For Your Disability Application To Be Processed
I have written another article on safety tips for people with disability due to bad knees that you can read here.