In order for arthritis to qualify as a disabling impairment under Social Security disability rules, it must prevent the person from working at the level of substantial gainful activity. The SGA level is a threshold on monthly earnings determined by the Social Security Administration to be self supporting. People in West Virginia who earn more than the SGA limit are generally not considered disabled by the SSA. Typically, the applicant's level of work activity will be examined by claims representatives during the interview process.
People who are working at or above the substantial gainful activity level will have their disability claims denied without consideration of medical evidence. There are two paths for approval. The first is to satisfy the requirements of impairment listing 1.02. Under that listing, which applies to major joint dysfunction, the applicant must show that his or her arthritis effects a major weight-bearing joint, such as the hip, knee or ankle, or that it involves major peripheral joints in upper extremities. In either case, the applicant must show that the arthritis prevents ambulation or impairs gross and fine movements.
If the applicant cannot meet the listing requirements, his or her second option is to rely on a review of work history and medical records. The SSA might require an independent physician's report, and the determination of disability will depend heavily on the specific facts of the case.
People in West Virginia who are pursuing claims with the SSA might want to speak with a legal representative. A lawyer with experience handling Social Security disability claims could help by gathering evidence and putting together a claim for submission or by advising the client regarding threshold income levels and other restrictions. A lawyer might draft and file necessary legal documents or communicate with government officials during disability claims hearings.