Gout is a painful medical condition resulting from high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a naturally occurring waste product that, under normal circumstances, is removed from the body by the kidneys in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail to clear uric acid, excess uric acid levels can lead to urate crystal formation (a.k.a. crystalline arthritis) in the joints and tendons.
Gout can cause sudden, very painful attacks and inflammation. Approximately 75% of initial gout attacks are in the big toe. Later stages of gout will affect other joints of the body, such as the instep, heel, ankle, knees, elbows, fingers, wrists, and spine.
The urate crystals formed by gout can be the source of inflammation, pain, and tenderness in the affected areas, as well as damage to joints and connective tissue, which can restrict range of motion. In fact, gout is often referred to as gouty arthritis because of the inflammation it causes in the joints.
A condition that is sometimes concurrent with gout is the development of kidney stones. Statistically, in fact, 20% of those who have gout eventually develop kidney stones.
Although gout is an inherited condition, it does seem to be triggered by external and environmental factors such as diet, changes in body weight, and alcohol consumption, which can affect the ability of the kidneys to remove uric acid from the body.
Typically, gout occurs in males more often than females. Gout is also a disease that favors older individuals. It is diagnosed far more frequently in individuals who are thirty years of age or older, though its long-term effects can be more pronounced in those who develop the condition before age 30.
If the pain and inflammation from gout do not respond well to treatment (mainly prescription drugs and purine-rich foods) and are significant enough to disrupt your ability to work, disability benefits may be available.
While Social Security doesn't have a specific disability listing for gout, gout is mentioned in Social Security’s disability listings as being associated with inflammatory arthritis. If you are diagnosed with gout and inflammatory arthritis, you can apply for disability benefits under Social Security's disability listing for inflammatory arthritis.
If you haven't been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis, you can still apply for benefits based on gout alone, if you can convince Social Security that your pain and inflammation have destroyed your ability to work for a 12-month period. Admittedly, this is difficult to do since the symptoms of gout are often intermittent. But if gout is present with another medical condition, such as depression, your chances of being granted disability benefits go up.
To learn about how your ability to work, and your age come into play, see Eligibility for Disability Benefits Via a Medical-Vocational Allowance.
You may also be able to "equal" the listing for artritis. See "Meeting" vs. "Equaling" a Social Security Disability Listing for more.