Jackie had never heard of ankylosing spondylitis. That is until her doctor told her that she had it. At age 23, she thought she had a long career ahead of her, but now she didn’t know what to expect. Her doctor told her that she could continue working, but Jackie’s symptoms worsened over the next few years. Eventually, she could no longer continue working as a high school English teacher because of the pain. Some people with ankylosing spondylitis manage well with pain medication, but others find the condition debilitating. Jackie’s next question about her future became whether ankylosing spondylitis is a disability that would make her eligible for disability benefits.
The answer is – maybe.
Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis,
This disease with a difficult name (ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss) is a form of arthritis that usually affects the spine. Some patients may notice problems in other joints also.
- Inflammation of spinal joints, particularly the sacroiliac joints at the base of the spine.
- Severe, chronic pain.
- Inflammation, pain and stiffness in shoulders, ribs, heels, hands, and feet.
- Less common symptoms affect the eyes, lungs, and heart.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is an incurable, lifelong disease. Treatments and prescription medications can help patients reduce the effect of their symptoms, but the disease can be disabling.
Qualifying as a Disability
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two of the main disability benefit programs available to people who qualify. For a disease or condition to be considered a disability, the Social Security Administration looks for:
“… the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Jackie’s condition – ankylosing spondylitis – could meet this definition. But Social Security also requires proof, as laid out in its Listing of Impairments.
Ankylosing spondylitis appears in Section 14.00 Immune Systems Disorders under the inflammatory arthritis subsection. Social Security looks for medical proof that a condition has resulted in severe impairment that limits or eliminates a person’s ability to work.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Can Be a Disability
However, you won’t receive disability benefits unless you apply for them. Talk to a lawyer as soon as you learn you can no longer work so you can get the lengthy application process started.
At The Law Offices of Martin Taller, your case gets the attention and care of experienced Social Security Disability attorneys. Call us at 714-385-8100 to set up a free consultation. Though our office is conveniently located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.