When Disabling Arthritis prevents you from Working

Posted by Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan
February 14, 2019

Many Canadians of working age develop serious arthritis symptoms that make it difficult or impossible to complete the essential parts of their job.  In fact, arthritis is a leading cause of disability in Canada.

If you are suffering from arthritis, it’s very important to seek a diagnosis and treatment from your doctor as soon as possible, for several reasons.  In many cases, treatment can alleviate the pain and reduce the inflammation, and also prevent your symptoms from worsening. Further, if you have coverage under a disability plan, you need to be able to show that you sought medical attention and followed your doctor’s suggestions for treatment before your insurance company will approve your disability benefits application.

There are many forms of arthritis and typically, pain and inflammation are common symptoms. The two most prevalent types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Osteoarthritis occurs when repeated movement and ‘wear and tear’ causes the cartilage in your joints to wear down. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) happens when your immune system attacks the synovium (the tissue that lines your joints).  This results in inflammation and can eventually destroy the tissue and erode the affected joint.  Women are three times more likely to suffer from RA than men, and this condition is typically diagnosed when an adult is between the age of 25 and 50.  Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured but an effective treatment can put the condition into remission.

Arthritis pain occurs when your bones rub against one another due to the breakdown of cartilage in your joints.  This can occur in any joints in your body, including the wrists, shoulders, hips, fingers, knees and spine.  In addition to causing pain, arthritis causes joint swelling and stiffness, and reduces range of motion and mobility for sufferers.  Fatigue is another common symptom of arthritis and because chronic pain often interferes with sleep, it’s not surprising that a sufferer often feels sluggish and tired.

Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with additional symptoms such as skin rashes and organ problems, including pulmonary disease.  Because persons suffering from RA have a higher risk of infection, treatment should include immediate treatment of infections as well as immunization.  RA sufferers typically develop osteoporosis either as a complication of RA or resulting from RA treatments. 

Depending on which area of the body is affected by arthritis, a sufferer may have difficulty lifting even slightly heavy objects, opening jars, standing or sitting for any length of time, grasping small objects, and climbing stairs.  Clearly, these disabilities can have a direct impact on the ability to perform a whole range of work tasks, from working on a computer keyboard, to performing lifting or heavy work in an industrial setting.

If arthritis pain interferes with your ability to perform your job, and you have sought treatment for your symptoms, you are entitled to seek disability benefits if you have coverage under a disability insurance plan. Further, all Canadians who were gainfully employed for the minimum number of years required under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), can apply for CPP disability benefits if they suffer from a condition like arthritis, that prevents them from working.  If your disability benefits have been denied for any reason, call a knowledgeable disability benefits lawyer at Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan.  Our team will give you an honest assessment of the strength of your claim and can provide strong representation in an appeal for owed benefits.


Disclaimer: Our blog is intended to inform our existing and prospective clients about topics pertinent to their lives. While our goal is to provide accurate and factual information, this in no way should be taken as legal advice or applied to specific cases. It is in your best interest to contact a licenced and practising lawyer for legal representation, as matters of the law are often complicated and cannot be fully assessed without knowing all of the details of a case.