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Can you file for disability if you are dealing with Ankylosing Spondylitis?

By October 9, 2009 - 7:31am
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I have dealt with back and joint pain the majority of my adult life. My primary physician shrugged it off because I am overweight. After changing primary physicians about 2 years ago, I expressed my concern over my increasing joint pains to my new primary, and he referred me to a Rheumatologist. After various blood tests, x-rays, and MRI's, the specialist diagnosed me with Anklyosing Spondylitis. I have taken anti-inflammatories, methotrexate, and am now injecting myself with a biologic every week (50mg). The problem is that my health continues to deteriorate. My back and neck are still in pain, and my ribs ache when I breathe. To add to this issue, I also have osteoarthritis in both hips, arthritis in both knees, and a torn meniscus. I live in New York City, and commute to work, so I use staircases frequently, and it's very painful walking and worse using stairs. A few weeks ago, someone bumped into me in the train station as I was walking down the stairs, and I fell down the last 3 steps. I work in an office, so I am sitting most of the day, and I have to get up every hour, and walk around a bit, because my joints are aching, and my back is already hunching over. I am in constant pain, and I use a cane already, and I'm pretty sure a wheelchair is in my future. I am only 47 years old, can I file for disability, and what would be my possibilities of getting it?

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EmpowHER Guest

Hey Susan,

The link you included to the SSD application isn't working. It looks like it has changed to - http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html

Also, there's a nice overview of the SSD process here - http://www.ssdfighters.com/social-security-disability-lawyer/an-overview/

October 6, 2014 - 8:06am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you, Anon. Susan's link was shared in 2009, so it's not surprising that it's been updated. Thanks for sharing! Pat

October 6, 2014 - 6:30pm
HERWriter Guide


Thanks for your question and welcome!

I'm sorry to read about your conditions and the pain you are in. It makes life very difficult.

My first thought is to avoid disability if you can - and only apply for it if you simply cannot work anymore. So many people end up home bound, bed bound or wheel chair bound very quickly once they stop working. I can understand you needing relief but my fear is that as soon as you stop working, you will get in a mindset that prevents you from living life with as much gusto as you can, considering your circumstances.

That being said - to be in so much pain (pain when you breathe must be wretched, considering we breathe twenty four hours a day and it's mandatory!) does disable us. If your work is causing your pain to increase, then you may have to stop. Sometimes we have to modify our lives in order to cope with the conditions we live with.

We can't give you advice about your states particular disability requirements regarding your condition but I do know that the Social Security Administration will work with you and your doctor to decide if you are eligible or not. You can begin the process here : http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/adult.htm

And please visit our Ankylosing Spondylitis page here:


I would also encourage you to contact the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) here:
You'll get lots of information and first hand experiences from others going through the same thing.

I hope this helps you and I wish you the very best. Do you have a strong support network? Do you live with others? If you do go on disability, you will need physical and emotional support, and activities to keep you busy and motivated! Will you keep us updated?

October 9, 2009 - 12:43pm
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