Excruciating pain and other rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms can make full-time or part-time work impossible for some members of myRAteam. When members can no longer work, many in the United States seek Social Security disability benefits. Disability benefits help replace lost income when people with RA have to leave their jobs.
The decision to apply for disability benefits is difficult for some myRAteam members. “I just feel guilty about applying for disability,” one member shared after being fired for missing too much work. “I come from a time and family that tells me I should just suck it up and find a job.” Another member tried to assuage his guilt, “You paid into Social Security all those years, and now you're at a time in your life when you really need it. Don't hesitate. Do what you need to do and don't feel guilty.”
Once someone with RA decides to apply for disability benefits, the process can be long and arduous. Many myRAteam members are denied benefits one or more times and must go through an appeals process before eventually being approved. “Second denial from Social Security on disability benefits,” one member reported. “Everyone says I should appeal again and go before a judge this time.”
Some members of myRAteam describe a years-long process before receiving disability benefits. “It took me almost three years [to receive benefits], and I have had RA for 30-plus years with over 25 surgeries,” one member shared. “It was a fight.”
Another member commented, “The good news is my Social Security benefits were approved. Five years of struggling. It's such a relief.”
Members encourage each other to seek legal support, either paid or through free services, and to stay the course even if they’re denied disability benefits. “My advice: file and expect to be denied a couple times, but don’t give up!” shared a member who was approved for benefits after a year and a half. Others shared similar sentiments: “I’m not giving in. I worked my butt off and paid my share of Social Security taxes and I’m not stopping!!!”
Support from fellow myRAteam members is vital during the difficult process of applying, waiting, and appealing Social Security disability benefits. “Thank you all so much for the encouragement,” a member wrote. “It means so much. Very difficult at best when friends and family act as if nothing is wrong.”
On myRAteam, the social network and online support group for those living with rheumatoid arthritis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Applying for disability benefits is one of the most discussed topics.
Here are some conversations about accessing disability benefits:
Here is a question-and-answer thread about disability benefits:
Have you applied or considered applying for disability benefits? Share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments. You can also join or log in and post on myRAteam.
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