Study Finds Individuals with Arthritis Don’t Walk Enough, Allsup Reports

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Arthritis can be extremely debilitating; Allsup outlines considerations when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Allsup stresses the importance of working closely with physicians to document arthritis symptoms that prevent mobility.

A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that most people with arthritis don’t walk enough or engage in adequate physical activity, both of which can help increase function and strength and reduce pain. Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation, stresses the importance of working closely with physicians to document arthritis symptoms that prevent mobility.

The CDC’s research, issued in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is based on data gathered from nearly 500,000 Americans in the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The study looked at the physical activity levels of those with arthritis, finding most adults with arthritis walk fewer than 90 minutes per week. The state-specific research found a median of 66 percent of people with arthritis walking fewer than 90 minutes a week. More than half, 53 percent, of study participants don’t walk at all.

Although arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the U.S., having the condition does not automatically qualify individuals for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, said Ed Swierczek, senior claimant representative for Allsup. “The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that the arthritis be severe enough to prevent you from working,” he said. “One example is that the pain caused by arthritis is so severe that it prevents you from getting enough rest, causing overwhelming fatigue.”

There are more than 100 conditions that fall under the arthritis umbrella, with osteoarthritis the most common form. “It’s important for individuals with this condition to not only document the symptoms they are having, but also to clearly report them to their treating physicians,” Swierczek said. “This approach helps the doctor better treat the patient as well as facilitates documenting the disability for a Social Security disability claim.”

Swierczek encouraged people with arthritis to fully explain their limitations and experiences at each appointment. “This includes physical symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, swelling and fatigue, but also includes emotional concerns like depression and anxiety,” he added.

Appropriate laboratory and radiological studies also are required to secure SSDI benefits. “Medical records that demonstrate clinical findings of joint limitation of motion, joint tenderness and swelling are critical to a Social Security disability claim because it is a program based on medical evidence,” Swierczek explained.

SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program that operates separately from the retirement and Supplemental Security Income programs. It is funded by FICA payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers. SSDI provides monthly income to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a severe disability expected to last for more than 12 months or is terminal.

In its medical listings, the SSA primarily evaluates arthritis under two body systems—the musculoskeletal and immune systems. “According to the SSA, a treating physician’s medical opinion should be given controlling weight in the adjudication of a disability claim when medical evidence supports the opinion,” Swierczek said. “This is why it’s crucial to provide comprehensive, current information at every doctor’s visit.”

For questions about SSDI eligibility or applying with arthritis, contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free evaluation.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to or visit Allsup on Facebook at

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