Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability Insurance Benefits Claim

Disability insurance carriers often challenge a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. How Can Disability Insurance Attorneys Dell & Schaefer Assist You?

As disability attorneys, Dell & Schaefer have represented numerous long term disability claimants that have been unable to work as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. Disability Attorneys Dell & Schaefer have an expansive understanding of the significant restrictions and limitations that a person suffering with rheumatoid arthritis must live with on a daily basis. We have worked closely with top physicians in order to sufficiently satisfy a disability carrier’s threshold of evidence necessary to prove that a client is disabled by rheumatoid arthritis.

Not everyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis qualifies for long-term disability benefits, therefore the medical records of each client must be reviewed to determine the level of restrictions. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your long-term disability claim. You can contact us for a free consultation.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that most typically affects the small joints in the hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. For most people with RA the pain varies day to day, however it is continuous.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect your whole body with fevers and fatigue.

Approximately 2.1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis and about 1-2 percent of the world population is affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Seventy-five percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients are women. Men, women, and even children can develop rheumatoid arthritis. Typically, disease onset for rheumatoid arthritis occurs between 30 and 60 years old.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium, which is the lining of the membranes that surround your joints. The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually invade and destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint. The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch, gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment completely.

Doctors cannot pinpoint a single cause of the rheumatoid arthritis, although a genetic component appears likely. While your genes don’t actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more vulnerable to environmental factors, such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria, which may trigger the disease.

Additional Factors that may increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include gender, as women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men are. Age is a factor even though rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it most commonly begins between the ages of 40 and 60. Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

How the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can affect you

Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint damage that can be both debilitating and disfiguring. Damage to your joints may make it difficult or impossible to go about your daily activities. You may find at first that tasks take more energy to accomplish. With time you may find you are no longer able to do them at all.

Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include joint pain, joint swelling, tenderness, swelling, rheumatoid nodules (firm bumps of tissue under the skin), stiffness, fever and weight loss.

Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first, such as the joints in your wrists, hands, ankles and feet. As the disease progresses, your shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, jaw and neck also can become involved. In most cases, symptoms occur symmetrically, in the same joints on both sides of your body.

Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity. Periods of increased disease activity, called flare-ups, alternate with periods of relative remission, during which the swelling, pain, difficulty sleeping and weakness fade or disappear.

There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Medications can reduce inflammation in your joints in order to relieve pain and prevent or slow joint damage. If your joints are severely damaged by rheumatoid arthritis, surgery may be necessary.

Many drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis have potentially serious side effects. Doctors typically prescribe medications with the fewest side effects first. You may need stronger drugs or a combination of drugs as your disease progresses.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofenand naproxen sodium.

Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone and methylprednisolone, reduce inflammation and pain and slow joint damage. Doctors often prescribe a corticosteroid to relieve acute symptoms.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage. Commonly prescribed DMARDs include methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine and minocycline.

Immunosuppressants act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in rheumatoid arthritis. Examples include azathioprine, cyclosporine and cyclophosphamide.

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors, is an inflammatory substance produced by your body. TNF-alpha inhibitors can help reduce pain, morning stiffness, and tender or swollen joints. Examples include etanercept, infliximab and adalimumab.

Several other rheumatoid arthritis drugs target a variety of inflammatory substances produced by your body. These drugs include anakinra, abatacep and rituximab.

If medications fail to prevent or slow joint damage, you and your doctor may consider surgery to repair damaged joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis surgery may involve one or more of the following procedures:

During a total joint replacement surgery (arthoplasty), your surgeon removes the damaged parts of your joint and inserts a prosthesis made of metal and plastic.

Inflammation and joint damage may cause tendons around your joint to loosen or rupture. A tendon repair surgery may be able to repair the tendons around your joint.

If the lining around your joint (synovium) is inflamed and causing pain, your surgeon may recommend a snovectomy, removing the lining of the joint.

Joint fusion surgery (arthrodesis) may be recommended to stabilize or realign a joint and for pain relief when a joint replacement isn’t an option.

Through education about the disease, exercise, diet changes, assistive devices, and other supports many people are able to manage their disease.


There are many valuable sources of rheumatoid arthritis information available. You can also access resources over the internet such as:

There are numerous charities dedicated to rheumatoid arthritis research, detection and treatment including:

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There are 10 comments

  • Polly, if you are eligible to receive the increase it may be a wise decision in the event your conditions do prevent you from working in the future. I would discuss your claim with HR or if they have provided you an agent contact for Northwestern Mutual contact him or her to discuss your options in increasing benefits.

    Stephen JessupDec 20, 2017  #10

  • I am a 50 yo female (non smoker). I work full time as an RN at a hospital. I have all the symptoms of RA and 100% sure I have this. My RF factor and others were negative 6 months ago. I am declining quickly and want to insure myself before an official diagnosis. I have increased my life insurance policy but what about additional long term disability insurance. My work pays 50% of pay. North Western has a policy of paycheck – $1300/month for $130 a month or $1000/month for $100 a month. I am already missing work d/t flare ups. Is additional long term insurance a good idea? Thank you

    PollyDec 19, 2017  #9

  • Meg, if you cannot work on account of your RA and your doctor supports your disability then you can certainly file for disability. That being said there are a multitude of other factors that can come into play. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your situation further.

    Stephen JessupFeb 27, 2017  #8

  • Hi. I have been diagnosed with RA…. Will I be able to claim from Liberty Life?

    MegFeb 25, 2017  #7

  • Gary, is your claim for benefits under a private disability insurance policy or through the SSA? If it is the latter you will need to consult with a SSDI attorney to determine the viability of a claim. If it is under a private disability policy please feel free to contact our office to discuss.

    Stephen JessupJan 16, 2017  #6

  • I’m currently seeking a disability claim. I have degenerative disc disease same as my mother. Recently strained my groin muscle then found that have arthritis in my inner and outer hip. I have had 3 shots in elbows, 18 shots in my back. Do I have a claim?

    Gary C.Jan 15, 2017  #5

  • JM,

    You can attempt to file a claim but you will most likely have a problem as it relates to coverage under the policy. Typically, if you are laid off you lose all benefits. If a claim for disability was not submitted under the insurance policy prior to being laid off it is arguable that you are not covered under the policy.

    Stephen JessupMar 12, 2015  #4

  • Hi,

    Can you file a claim for disability if you have been laid off?

    JMMar 11, 2015  #3

  • MG,

    As long as there are no concerns for pre-existing conditions, then the policy should cover for psoriatic arthritis.

    Stephen JessupFeb 5, 2014  #2

  • Hi,

    Fantastic article, please if I may ask a question. My wife is a confirmed patient for psoriasis arthritis diagnosed by a rheumatologist. We have cover for RA on our insurance policy under dreaded disease. Does psoriasis arthrites is also covered?

    Kind regards,

    MGFeb 4, 2014  #1


Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via telephone, e-mail, fax, GoToMeeting.com sessions, or Skype. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability attorney. We can be reached at 800-682-8331 or by email. Lawyer and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.


Bruce R. (Arizona)

Steve Dell has done an exceptional job with my disability application process. The firm is extremely well managed. They have acquired an incredible amount of experience over many years. I recommend them for disability insurance claims without reservation. 

Don (Florida)

I called this firm a few months ago completely disparaged due to a company cutting off disability benefits at a time that nearly caused me to lose everything.

Attorney Alex Palmera and Danielle worked hard to reach an amicable settlement and my case was settled a few months later. This is a good firm and the specific expertise in disability claims saved me countless hours of hassle at a time when an already fragile state existed.

Thank you Mr. Palamara and Danielle.

Sandra B. (Arkansas)

I have nothing but good things to say about how my buyout was handled with my disability claim. The level of professionalism was amazing. All of my questions and concerns were answered either by Danielle L. or Alex P. in such a timely manner and with such care I would recommend them in a heartbeat to anyone needing to approach their provider with buyout options.

They did a fantastic job communicating between the provider and me, always keeping my best interest at heart and always answering my many many questions. They really did take most of the stress out of this whole situation. I would give them a 10 out of 10 for every step of this crazy journey. Thank you so much for helping me through this.

Brenda R. (New York)

I needed assistance with an appeal for a LTD claim that was initially denied. Stephen understood what needed to happen to win the appeal and he did win the appeal for me.

Michael C. (Virginia)

Greg Dell and his assistant Anneli have been extremely responsive and helpful, not only our initial consultations, but in follow-ups 1 and 2 years later with the insurance company to ensure that they comply with their agreements (which they did), as well as a separate and only slightly-related inquiry about our health insurance. I always hear back from them very quickly, which is rare and greatly appreciated.

Jeff P. (Oklahoma)

After a very long and frustrating ordeal to keep my LTD payments coming I decided to seek assistance from and attorney. After much research and asking those in the legal profession Dell & Schaefer seemed to be the top choice. I reached out and Alex Palamara was the attorney assigned to my case. All I can say is the experience was outstanding. Both Alex and his Paralegal, Danielle Lauria were excellent to work with. They were very kind, concerned, understanding of my frustrations and treated me with the utmost respect. Communication was excellent with regular updates and telling me what I could expect in each stage of the process.

Alex was also very straight forward with what to expect and no pie in the sky promises or expectations were made. In the end we won our case and I believe it was solely due to their experience and knowledge of not only the laws but the insurance companies as a whole. I would highly recommend them and am very grateful for the help they afforded to me.

Chad B. (Illinois)

I originally spoke with 3 other long term disability lawyers about my case before contacting Dell and Schaefer. None of those law firms would take it. They said the chances of me winning was not good. After finding Dell and Schaefer online I spoke with one of the attorneys that has since left. He did take my case but later it was picked up by Rachel Alters. Rachel is amazing and a very intelligent attorney. She not only won my case but also was able to get my back pay for 6 months.

I also cannot say enough about Sonia Nogueira. Sonia was always quick to answer any of my questions. I would usually hear back from her within hours of sending her a email. I do not know where I would be if I hadn’t contacted them. My family and I cannot thank them enough. Don’t let an insurance company tell you they are not responsible for paying you. I paid them for 20 years monthly and they looked for any reason they could not to have to pay me when I needed my benefit. Thank you Rachel and Sonia for all you guys do.

Paul L. (New York)

Words can only scratch the surface regarding my experience working with Attorneys Dell & Schaefer. It’s a very emotional experience making the decision to utilize disability insurance. The unknowns were/are scary. From the very first phone call, the support staff was/are very professional and reassuring. I have been working with Attorney Steven Dell for approximately 10 years. He is confident, reassuring, listens to and addresses all my concern, and is extremely dilligent in understanding my specific policies for how they impact me. It is very reassuring that Steven handles and deals with the insurance company on my behalf. Attorney Dell’s team, and specifically Merlin, Attorney Dell’s assistant, is simply fantastic. Her professionalism and attention to detail have made all my communications with the office seamless.

Simply put, my experience with Dell & Schaefer made the emotional rollercoaster experience of my neck surgery seem like a walk in the park.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, to both Attorney Steven Dell and to Merlin for how you have helped me over these past 10 years.

Dilligence, Reassurance, Professionalism at every step, Confidence, Results.

With 10 years experience with working with Dell & Schaefer, taking that step to call Attorneys Dell & Schaefer was one of the best professional and personal decisions I have ever made.

You want to know what you can do – the below comment about posting your first name and last name initial on our website. Put up my full name, phone number, and email address. I will gladly speak to anyone about your office and tell them my story and how instrumental Steven and Merlin have been in my life over the past 10 years.

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