Ankylosing Spondylitis Disability Benefits

How to Get Ankylosing Spondylitis Disability Benefits

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and large joints, leading to stiffness and lower back pain. This can make work much more difficult for people who have this autoimmune inflammatory disease. Since this condition can interfere with normal daily activities, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers it an approved medical condition. This means individuals who cannot work for one year due to AS symptoms may qualify for ankylosing spondylitis disability benefits.

Learn how to qualify, what documents you’ll need, average benefit amounts, and how to get expert help for free below.



Common Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms and Related Conditions

Also known as axial spondylarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can cause the vertebrae in your spine to fuse together over time. This fusing makes your spine less flexible, leading to a hunched posture. If it affects your ribs, it can also make breathing more difficult. The condition is more common among men, and it usually begins in early adulthood. Most people develop AS sometime between when they turn 18 and 40 years old.

Other things that many AS patients experience that may help you qualify for ankylosing spondylitis disability benefits include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • A chronic condition that makes your eye red, painful, and swollen called iritis (i.e., acute anterior uveitis)
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome or IBD
  • Psoriasis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Sensitivity to bright lights, blurred vision, or watery eyes (about 1 in 3 AS patients develop this with iritis)
  • Stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath because your chest feels tight
  • Tenderness, swelling, or chronic pain in different joints, your neck, and your back
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes things like heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes
  • Sciatica (i.e., nerve pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness)

Ankylosing Spondylitis Disability Benefits: How to Qualify

Getting Social Security disability benefits for ankylosing spondylitis is crucial if you cannot work for health reasons. If you qualify, SSD funds can replace some of your lost income from jobs. Perhaps more important, these benefits relieve the stress of no longer being able to work. That way, you can focus on your treatment and overall well-being instead.

Ankylosing spondylitis is listed in the SSA’s blue book of medical conditions. It appears in Section 14.00, “Immune System Disorders — Adult.” According to the SSA, in order to receive ankylosing spondylitis disability benefits, the following must be true:

  1. Your health condition must stop you from working for at least 12 months. This means you’re unable to work because of pain, breathing problems, or because cannot comfortably sit or stand as required for your job.
  1. You must have at least 20 work credits when you apply. This means you worked at least 5 in the last 10 years full time while paying Social Security payroll taxes. The amount of income required to earn a work credit changes each year. In 2023, each $1,640 in earned job wages equals one work credit. If you don’t have enough work history, then you might still qualify for Supplemental Security Income.
  1. You’re not currently getting any other RSDI benefits from the SSA each month. RSDI payments include things like early retirement or regular Social Security.
  1. You follow prescribed treatment from your doctor, but still have AS symptoms that limit your daily activities. 

Pro Tip: Before applying for ankylosing spondylitis disability benefits, talk with your doctor about how your condition affects your ability to work. Your doctor can supply needed medical evidence that supports your Social Security disability benefits claim.

Having complete medical records from your doctor can make all the difference, especially during the initial application process.

Medical Evidence You’ll Need for Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Disability Claim

Your ankylosing spondylitis disability application also needs strong medical proof that supports your request for benefits. Social Security’s Blue Book lists the criteria the agency uses when approving disability claims for AS.

Here’s what the SSA wants to see when they review your medical records, which should include appropriate medically acceptable imaging. For the SSA, submit any of the following taken of your spine within the past year, if possible:

  • X-rays
  • MRIs
  • CT scans

You must also meet one of two main criteria:

1. Your spine stays fixed at a 45° angle (or more), confirmed by a medical exam and imaging scans or

2. Your spine stays fixed at a 30° to 45° angle and you also have symptoms that affect at least two body parts. If this applies to you, AS must at least moderately affect one body part or organ for it to count.

Here are some body parts or systems that your AS may affect for rule #2 shown above:

  • Ankles – This can include things like stiffness, pain, and Achilles tendon injuries.
  • Feet
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Ribs – About 70% of people with AS have inflammation in this area, which can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing.
  • Shoulders

The SSA claims examiner may also request medical exam details or recent lab test results. For example, there is an ankylosing spondylitis blood test which can identify the presence of HLA-B27. This is a genetic mutation that appears in 85% of people with AS.

Once you apply, you’ll receive a decision from Social Security regarding your disability application in about 3-5 months.

The SSA will mail this letter to the address you provided while filling out your Social Security disability claim.

Social Security Disability Application Checklist

Here’s a brief checklist of documents you’ll need to keep handy when filling out your ankylosing spondylitis disability application:

  1. Demographic and contact information. Your name, address, phone, date of birth, birth certificate, children, marriage and/or divorce records, military service records, if applicable.
  1. Job history. Your most recent start and end dates, previous jobs, annual or hourly pay rate, and employer contact information.
  2. Education level and other training. Your high school diploma, college degrees, certificates, licenses, or other training required for your past jobs.
  3. Medical history and recent records. Records and test results specific to your diagnosis, treatment, and outlook with AS from the past year. You’ll also need a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications your doctor recommends you take for AS. Be sure to include all contact info for any doctors, specialists, or clinics that treat your ankylosing spondylosis.

In 2023, the SSA awards more than 65,000 people between $1,483 and $1,830 per month in SSD benefits, on average. The most ankylosing spondylitis disability pay you can get is $3,627 per month, but few receive that. To qualify for that amount, you’d need to make at least $150,000 for 10 years or longer before you stopped working.

How to Get Free Expert Help Qualifying for Benefits

It can be hard to get ankylosing spondylitis disability benefits. Often, the SSA rejects claims from people the first time they apply for benefits. If that happens to you, you still have 60 days left to file an appeal. But an experienced Social Security attorney can triple your chances for success without charging you any fees up front.

Can’t afford to see a doctor? An attorney can cover the cost of any tests you need or pay for medical records or imaging scans. We can connect you with a nearby SSD claims expert by phone today for free application help. If the SSA doesn’t award you benefits, then you owe $0 to the expert who helped you. And if you’re successful, then you only pay one small fee after your benefits begin.

Want to talk to a local expert for free, in private? Click the button below now to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:

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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.