Learn if your arthritis qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina
As a condition affecting a significant portion of adults, arthritis is more than just a personal health issue—it’s a matter of concern for workers and employers alike. In this article, we delve into the prevalence of arthritis among U.S. workers, the most common types of arthritis, and the pivotal question of whether arthritis can be considered a work-related injury.
We’ll also discuss the potential for obtaining workers’ compensation for arthritis in South Carolina and what benefits you might be entitled to if your arthritis is work-related.
How common is arthritis among U.S. workers?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights arthritis as a major health issue, impacting approximately 21% of adults, or 53.2 million people. The CDC also reports that arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the workplace, costing about $303.5 billion in medical treatment and lost earnings in 2013 alone.
Arthritis disproportionately affects individuals of working age (18 to 64 years), with more than half (51.7%) of adults with arthritis falling into this category. The condition can significantly limit the type and amount of work they are capable of performing.
For example, arthritis sufferers often struggle with tasks like climbing ladders or walking long distances. So, if you work in a field like construction or roofing, arthritis can hinder your ability to work effectively or maintain employment.
What’s the most common type of arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, but other forms like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus are also relatively common. These conditions typically present with symptoms such as pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints, eventually impacting range of motion and mobility in some cases.
Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, in particular, can have more extensive effects and symptoms, including:
- Severe joint pain and swelling
- Skin rashes
- Weight loss
- Complications involving the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other vital organs
These systemic symptoms can significantly impair an individual’s daily activities and overall quality of life.
Is arthritis considered a work-related injury?
Arthritis is generally not considered a work-related injury in the traditional sense, as it’s typically a chronic condition that develops over time and is often related to genetic factors, age, or other non-work-related issues.
However, there are circumstances under which arthritis or its exacerbation could be linked to one’s job and potentially qualify as an occupational disease.
For example, if you work in a job like manufacturing that involves repetitive motion, heavy lifting or other physical activities that can exacerbate or contribute to the development of arthritis, you might be able to claim that their arthritis is work-related. This is particularly relevant in cases of osteoarthritis, which can be aggravated by certain types of work.
Can you get compensation for arthritis?
In South Carolina, obtaining workers’ compensation for arthritis can be complex. However, there are circumstances where arthritis could be covered under workers’ compensation, particularly if it can be shown that the workplace conditions significantly aggravated an existing condition or directly caused the development of arthritis.
For a successful workers’ comp claim for arthritis, it’s essential to follow the necessary procedure, which includes providing medical evidence that demonstrates a clear connection between the job duties and the arthritis condition.
Crucial pieces of evidence might include:
- Medical records, including a timeline of when symptoms developed
- Expert testimony
- Detailed documentation of your work activities
Each situation is unique, and the ability to get workers’ comp benefits for arthritis will depend on your specific job duties and the nature of your arthritis, including its severity and the timing of the symptoms in relation to your job.
Given the complexities involved in such claims, it’s advisable to seek guidance from an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation law if you believe your arthritis is related to your job. They can provide valuable assistance in navigating the claim process, gathering necessary evidence, connecting you with the right health care professionals, and advocating on your behalf to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
What workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to for occupational arthritis?
If your arthritis is determined to be work-related in the context of workers’ compensation, there are several types of benefits you might be eligible to receive. These benefits are designed to provide support and alleviate the financial and medical burdens associated with the condition.
The specific benefits can vary depending on the severity of your arthritis and how it impacts your ability to work, but they generally include:
- Medical benefits. Workers’ compensation covers all necessary and reasonable medical treatments related to your arthritis. This can include doctor visits, medication, physical therapy, surgery (if required), and any other relevant medical expenses.
- Wage replacement benefits. If your arthritis limits your ability to work or results in time away from work, you may be eligible for wage replacement benefits. These benefits typically provide two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If arthritis prevents you from returning to your previous job but you can work in a different capacity, workers’ compensation may provide vocational rehabilitation services. These services aim to help you retrain or develop new skills suitable for alternative employment.
Suffering from arthritis and need help with your South Carolina workers’ comp claim?
If you believe your arthritis is linked to your work or you’re struggling with the workers’ compensation claim process in South Carolina, the legal team at Chappell, Chappell & Newman is here to assist you.
Our experienced Columbia work injury attorneys specialize in workers’ compensation law and are dedicated to guiding you through every step of the process. We can help you gather the necessary evidence, connect with medical professionals, and advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support and guidance in your workers’ compensation claim. Contact Chappell, Chappell & Newman today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step toward securing the benefits you deserve.