According to the Arthritis Foundation, Rheumatoid Arthritis or “RA” is an incurable form of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. In RA, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium, which is a thin membrane that lines the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints, causing pain in the joints and inflammation that can occur throughout the body. The pain and stiffness from RA can become disabling.
I represent a 51 year old dental hygienist who was approved yesterday because the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) accepted the opinion of the claimant’s rheumatologist that the claimant’s RA precluded her from performing sedentary work. Blood tests and x-rays objectively established the diagnosis of RA. The ALJ concluded that the clinical findings and symptoms of joint pain, stiffness, weakness, reduced range of motion, decreased grip strength, and tenderness supported the rheumatologist’s functional assessment.
As noted in my September 16, 2011 blog, a claimant can obtain an opinion that the RA is severe enough to meet listing 14.09, which is potent medical evidence. However, as listing explanations come in narrative form, many doctors charge a substantial fee for the opinion.