If psoriatic arthritis and its symptoms affect your ability to perform a job, you may be eligible for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration. As of 2024, you could receive up to $943 per month in some cases.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in your joints, especially those in your hands and feet. Symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the disease.

While medications and lifestyle strategies can help you manage the symptoms, there is currently no cure. If left untreated, PsA can lead to severe flare-ups and result in long-term joint damage. These effects can interfere with your quality of life and your ability to complete everyday activities, including work.

If your symptoms are affecting your job performance, you might be able to receive disability benefits from the government or your employer.

Here’s what you need to know about disability programs and how to qualify for insurance and benefits.

The United States federal government, via Social Security, runs two programs that provide financial benefits to people with disabilities.

Social Security Disability Insurance

This program benefits people with disabilities who work for long enough and pay into Social Security within a certain period. The exact requirements to qualify will depend on your age.

The amount of financial aid you receive is based on your lifetime average earnings. Most people need at least 40 credits. At a maximum of 4 credits per year, you’d have to work for 10 years to be eligible for this program.

Supplemental Security Income

This program provides cash assistance to people with disabilities (and those who are 65 years old or older) who have limited income and resources.

As of 2024, a person who qualifies for the program can receive up to $943 per month, and an eligible couple can receive $1,415 per month. Some states also offer a supplemental amount to people who meet certain qualifications.

PsA can be considered a disability if it affects your job performance or your ability to work at all. The severity of your symptoms may determine this.

In a 2016 survey, about 1 in 3 people with PsA said they had missed work in the last year because of their symptoms. A similar number of people said the condition affected their ability to work a full-time job.

A rheumatologist can help structure a treatment plan for PsA that serves your needs. This plan can also help you make some adjustments in your workplace, such as:

  • using a hands-free phone headset
  • putting arthritis-friendly grips on pens and pencils
  • keeping frequently used items within close reach
  • using an ergonomic setup for your desk and chair
  • taking frequent breaks to move your body

In the same survey, up to 30% of people with PsA said the disease had affected their ability to get and keep a job.

If you cannot work because of your condition, you may qualify for specific disability benefits programs.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a five-step process to determine eligibility:

  • Are you working, or have you worked in the last 10 years? If so, have you paid into Social Security?
  • Is your condition severe? They’ll want to know whether PsA has prevented you from performing work tasks such as lifting, sitting, bending, or walking. They may ask for a letter from a medical professional confirming your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms.
  • Is your condition included in the disability list? Yes, PsA is included in the list of covered disabilities.
  • Are you physically able to do the job you’ve done before? The SSA may perform a residual functional capacity evaluation to determinehow your condition affects your work abilities.
  • Are you capable of doing any other type of work? The SSA will want to determine whether you may be able to work in a different type of job.

Read about how technology can make life with PsA easier.

You need to show that PsA significantly interferes with your ability to sustain substantial, gainful employment.

You can apply when PsA makes it difficult or impossible to perform a job. While you do not need to have a disability for a certain amount of time before you apply, you’ll need to show that PsA will prevent you from working for at least 12 months.

You may need a report from a licensed healthcare professional that lists and explains your diagnosis and symptoms.

Getting approved for disability benefits can be a lengthy and challenging process. It typically takes more than 3 months to receive a decision, but it can sometimes take up to 2 years.

You can start the process by filling out an online application, calling the SSA at 800-772-1213, or visiting your local Social Security office. You’ll need to submit a range of personal information, such as:

  • your birth date and place of birth
  • marriage or divorce information, if any
  • the names and birthdates of your children, if any
  • your work and salary history for this year and the previous 2 years
  • the types of jobs you’ve held for the last 15 years
  • the date the disability began to affect your ability to work
  • education
  • your medical records, including medications you take and information on doctors, tests, and treatments
  • bank account details

The SSA’s Checklist for Online Adult Disability Application provides a complete list of information you’ll need. You may be asked to submit documents to prove the claims on your application, such as W-2 forms, tax returns, birth certificates, and pay stubs.

Be prepared to submit medical evidence, such as doctor’s reports and test results, as well as an Adult Disability Report. You can work with the doctor who treats your PsA to get the right documentation for the disability claim.

Many people who apply for disability benefits are denied the first time. If that happens, you can start the appeals process by asking the SSA to review your case.

You can also work with a lawyer to help you navigate this lengthy process, which may improve your chance of success.

Read about how to find PsA support.

Private insurance policies may also cover PsA-related disability claims. There are two types of disability insurance:

  • Short-term policies: This type of disability insurance typically offers benefits for a few months to a year, but some may provide payments for up to 2 years.
  • Long-term policies: These programs generally offer benefit payments for a few years or until you no longer have a disability.

Many employers provide one or both of these disability insurance policies to their staff. Your human resources department can explain how to file a claim for PsA-related disability.

You can also buy a private disability insurance policy. As you shop around, make sure you read the fine print and understand:

  • how the policy defines disability
  • when the benefits would begin after a claim is approved
  • how long the benefits last
  • the amount you would receive from the policy

If you can’t work due to a PsA-related disability, you may be eligible for financial benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can start your application online or at your local SSA office.