Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits for Knee Problems?

You rely on your legs to move around, but your legs rely on your knees to bend, flex, and support weight.  When your knees are damaged by an illness or a long-term disabling injury, it can become completely impossible to perform basic physical tasks like walking, crouching, and lifting.  Even if you work at a desk job which requires minimal physical activity, severe and chronic knee pain can mean that sitting and focusing for long periods of time is totally out of the question.  If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from severe knee pain, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.  Could you be eligible?

Understanding the SSA’s Disability Eligibility Requirements

Before our social security disability lawyers can go over the Social Security Administration’s eligibility criteria for knee problems, it’s important to talk about the basic requirements which apply to all claimants.  Regardless of the condition you’re citing on your claim, all applicants should meet these general criteria for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and/or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance):

  • Your disability must be deemed severe, which means you cannot work.  If you can easily suppress and control your condition with medication, physical therapy, or other means of treatment, you will be not be considered impaired from the SSA’s perspective.
  • Your disability must be long-term, which means it must have lasted or be expected to last for 12 consecutive months, or be expected to end in death.
  • You must not be earning too much income.  For SSDI applicants, that means no more than $1,070 per month for 2014, or $1,090 per month beginning in 2015.  For SSI applicants, while the income limit matches the 2014 Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) of $721, not all income is actually counted toward that threshold, which makes the number slightly misleading.  The FBR will increase to $733 in 2015.
  • SSDI claimants need to have earned enough work credits for their age, while all SSI claimants must have limited income and resources.

Knee Pain

How to Qualify for Disability with a Knee Problem

As mentioned above, the SSA wants to make sure you’re severely impaired and cannot work before you can approved for disability benefits.  To that end, the SSA uses something called the Listing of Impairments, which contains severity standards for numerous medical issues.  The Listing is broken down by body system, so first, let’s look at Section 1.00: the musculoskeletal system.

Under Section 1.00, either of the following conditions might be relevant to your knee issue:

  • Section 1.02 — Major dysfunction of a joint.  This can be due to any cause, and should present with all of the following:
    • Anatomical deformity.
    • Chronic pain or stiffness in the joint which limits its motion.
    • Inability to walk and move about effectively.
  • Section 1.03 — Reconstructive surgery of a major weight-bearing joint.  Section 1.03 also covers something called surgical arthrodesis, which means artificially forcing joint ossification through surgery.  In either case, by SSA standards you should be unable to walk effectively, and additionally, your walking ability should not be expected to return within 12 months.

While the musculoskeletal section may be the most obvious place to look, it certainly isn’t your only option.  If the above conditions don’t apply, you might qualify under Section 14.00, which covers the immune system and the following conditions:

  • 14.09 — Inflammatory arthritis.  While arthritis can be disabling in its own right, the SSA also recognizes that inflammatory arthritis involving peripheral joints (like your knees) can be associated with other disorders which are also potentially disabling, including:
    • Rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.
    • Lyme Disease, which is caused by tick bites.
    • Crystal deposition disorders, which include gout and pseudogout.  Gout and pseudogout occur when crystals — monosodium urate and calcium pyrophosphate, respectively — build up in your joints, such as your knees. These “crystal deposits” result in swelling, inflammation, and pain.
    • Sjogren’s Syndrome, which can cause joint pain and stiffness.  Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disorder whose causes are unknown, and is also covered by

You should also consider possible connections to other conditions which could qualify you for disability.  For example, gout is often associated with cardiovascular disease (heart disease), impaired kidney function, obesity, and diabetes.  If you experience any of these conditions, it’s possible you could also qualify through that listing.

Our Pennsylvania Disability Lawyers Can Help You Today

If you live with chronic knee pain because of a medical condition, you may qualify for monthly benefits.  For a completely free and confidential case evaluation, call the social security disability lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.