Is Osteoarthritis a Disability?

Ask a Doctor

I work as a janitor and I’m nearing retirement. I still have five or six years to go before I can start collecting pension benefits, but my osteoarthritis has gotten so bad I can barely push a broom or lift the mop bucket to dump it out. I’m looking into surgery and changing arthritis medications, but I can’t work. This is bad, because I will have no income for the gap between now and when my pension pays out. Is there a chance I could successfully apply for disability benefits to fill the gap? Is osteoarthritis a disability according to the Social Security Administration?

Doctor’s Response

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in which the cartilage from the joints that provides cushioning between the bones wears down. Bones can rub against each other, and bone spurs and cysts can form. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, loss of joint motion, and changes in the shape of affected joints. Osteoarthritis typically affects the hands, knees, feet, hips, and spine, but can affect any joint.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic and progressive condition, and in some people, it can be disabling. It can be a painful condition that can impact the ability to perform daily tasks or work. The Social Security Administration has specific criteria osteoarthritis must meet to qualify for disability payments such as anatomical deformity of joints, loss of range of motion, and pain. Walking must be impaired or you must be unable to perform certain manual tasks. If the spine is affected there must be compression of a nerve or spinal cord or other spinal problems.

For more information, read our full medical article on osteoarthritis.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Disability Benefits Help. Social Security Disability Benefits for Osteoarthritis. 2018. 7 January 2019 .

Doherty, MA, MD, FRCP, FHEA, Michael and Abhishek Abhishek, MBBS, MD, MRCP, PhD. Patient education: Osteoarthritis symptoms and diagnosis (Beyond the Basics). 18 December 2017. 7 January 2019 .