Osteoarthritis Disability Eligibility: What You Need to Know

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Find out if osteoarthritis is a disability and learn about diagnosis, treatment, benefits eligibility and living with functional limitations.
Happy Couple Embrace Outside

If you're one of the millions of people who suffer from osteoarthritis, you know how debilitating joint pain and decreased functional ability can be. But fear not! In this guide, we'll delve into the causes and symptoms of OA, as well as examine different treatment options to help reduce your pain.

Table of Contents:


Applying for Disability Benefits with Osteoarthritis

Applying for disability benefits due to osteoarthritis can be a complicated process. To qualify, the applicant must provide evidence that their condition is severe enough to prevent them from working and earning an income.

Medical Evidence

The SSA will require medical evidence of your diagnosis and how it affects your ability to work.

X-rays, lab tests, MRIs, or other diagnostic procedures can be used to support a diagnosis of osteoarthritis and its severity. Your doctor’s notes and reports are also necessary in order to prove that you suffer from osteoarthritis and its severity level as well as any treatment plans, they have prescribed you over time.

A medical professional must document in detail the functional limitations caused by your arthritis, such as difficulty walking, lifting objects or even sitting up straight for long periods of time without pain or discomfort.

This should be done after multiple visits over the course of treatment to accurately gauge how much difficulty these activities cause you due to symptoms like joint swelling and stiffness.


The SSA will need to know about any prior employment before submitting an application for disability benefits due to osteoarthritis, including the job duties and wages earned in those positions if applicable.


Applicants must show financial need through documentation of low-income levels below poverty thresholds set forth by federal guidelines along with proof of assets owned like property investments, retirement accounts, etc. to further demonstrate why applying for disability payments makes sense rather than attempting gainful employment once again.

Obtaining disability benefits for osteoarthritis can be a complex undertaking, but it's essential to comprehend the qualifications and recognize your entitlements so as to guarantee you get the support required. 

Understanding Osteoarthritis and Disability Eligibility

Millions of Americans suffer from the degenerative joint disorder known as osteoarthritis. Pain, tightness, swelling and limited mobility in the joint are all signs of this frequent type of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis commonly affects weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, hips, spine or feet.

A medical professional can detect inflammation or tenderness around the joint to diagnose osteoarthritis through a physical examination. X-rays may also be used to help diagnose osteoarthritis since it causes changes to bone structure over time. Blood tests may be employed to ensure other conditions are excluded, so as to facilitate a precise diagnosis.

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

Accurately diagnosing osteoarthritis necessitates a comprehensive approach, incorporating medical history review, physical examinations and imaging tests to exclude other potential diagnoses. It involves taking a detailed medical history, performing physical exams and imaging tests, and ruling out other conditions that may have similar symptoms.

Medical History

A doctor will ask questions about the patient’s age, family history of arthritis or joint pain, any previous injuries to the joints in question, current medications being taken for pain relief or stiffness, any lifestyle factors such as smoking or obesity that could contribute to joint damage.

Physical Exam

The physician will perform a physical exam to assess range of motion in the affected joints as well as look for swelling or tenderness around them. This is a chance to observe indications of inflammation, for example redness and heat in the region.

X-rays can reveal bone density changes associated with osteoarthritis, providing useful diagnostic information. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can provide more detailed images of soft tissues like cartilage which may help identify areas where there is significant damage due to wear and tear from everyday activities over time.

Ruling Out Other Conditions

Osteoarthritis shares some similarities with other types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis. so it’s important that these are ruled out before making a diagnosis. Ruling out other conditions is an important step in diagnosing osteoarthritis. Blood tests can be used to measure levels of inflammatory markers which may indicate whether another type of arthritis is present, or if there is an underlying infection causing joint pain and stiffness.

Diagnosing osteoarthritis can be difficult and complex, as there is no single test to determine its presence. Once a diagnosis is established, the next step is to explore treatment options. Having established a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, the following section will explore effective treatment options.

Treating Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a prevalent issue affecting countless individuals around the globe. It occurs when the protective cartilage in joints wears down, leading to pain and stiffness. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments available to help alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.

  • NSAIDs are regularly employed to handle osteoarthritis, with the objective of diminishing irritation and agony in the impacted joint(s). They work by reducing inflammation and pain in the affected joint(s). Other medications, such as acetaminophen or corticosteroids, may be prescribed depending on the intensity of symptoms if NSAIDs are not sufficient to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Physical therapy is a key component of osteoarthritis treatment, aiding in the preservation of joint flexibility, strength and range of motion. A physical therapist can create a personalized exercise program tailored to your needs that will help you manage OA without putting too much strain on your joints. Additionally, manual therapies such as massage or ultrasound may be used to reduce pain and swelling associated with OA.

  • Keeping active through low-impact activities such as swimming or yoga will help maintain functional ability, while avoiding high-impact exercises like running which could further aggravate joint damage over time.

  • Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins and minerals including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and nuts/seeds/beans is essential for proper functioning of our body systems involved with arthritis management (e.g., vitamin D).

  • ​​​​​​​Abstaining from smoking and limiting alcohol intake are two reliable strategies to reduce the likelihood of getting arthritis in the future.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary if other treatments are not effective at relieving symptoms or restoring functionality due to severe damage caused by OA progression over time.

Surgery options include arthroscopy, total joint replacement, or realignment surgeries depending on the severity of damage done by OA progression. These surgeries often result in improved mobility but should only be considered after all other treatment options have been exhausted.

Osteoarthritis a Disability FAQs

Does osteoarthritis qualify you for disability?

No, osteoarthritis does not automatically qualify you for disability. To be considered for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, it must be demonstrated that your condition meets certain criteria regarding its severity and duration.

This includes a showing of how severe and long-term your symptoms are and how they affect your ability to work. Your doctor will need to provide medical evidence in order to establish that you have a qualifying disability under SSA guidelines.

What jobs should be avoided with osteoarthritis?

Avoiding certain jobs or activities may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. Jobs which involve repetitive motions, heavy lifting, extended kneeling or standing on hard surfaces should be avoided, as these can exacerbate joint pain and make arthritis symptoms worse.

Any job that requires constant movement such as running or jumping should also be avoided to minimize strain on affected joints.

Consult a medical professional or physical therapist for guidance on activities that are suitable and safe.


If you believe that your osteoarthritis is severe enough to affect your ability to work, it may be worth exploring the possibility of disability benefits. It is essential to recognize that the level of your symptoms and their effects on your life will decide if osteoarthritis can be considered a disability.

If you think that you might be eligible for these benefits, contact an experienced attorney who can help guide through the process of applying.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with HelpAdivsor.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@MyHelpAdvisor.com.

Read More
Woman smiles and fits on her hearing aids
Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, but Medicare Advantage plans can. Find out what Medicare ...
Man Filling Out A Form
Create a MyMedicare.gov account to see details of your Medicare benefits online, including claims, ...
Home Health Nurse With Patient
Some Humana Medicare Advantage plans can cover home health care services such as care managers, home ...