Key Employer

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory, and systemic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited motion and function of many joints. RA often develops gradually and becomes more severe over time. Permanent damage to bones may begin within the first year of developing the disease, so early treatment is important in RA management.5-8

The many physical impacts of rheumatoid arthritis may include:


Total annual rheumatoid arthritis healthcare costs are approximately $19.3 billion. This includes $6.3 billion in costs to employers, $5.5 billion to employees, $3.7 billion to caregivers, and $3.8 billion to the government.1 An estimated 1.5 million people are affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Physical impacts from rheumatoid arthritis can directly affect employees during their working years.15

  • Typical onset occurs between ages 30 and 50.16
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women, occurring ~3 times more often in women than in men.17-18
  • Fifty percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis may become work disabled during the first 10 years of the disease.2

*Estimates include direct healthcare costs and societal costs in the United States. Direct costs include all costs related to medical visits and prescriptions to treat an RA patient. Societal costs were estimated and include, but are not limited to, lost productivity and workplace adaptations (employers); lost earnings and home adaptations (employees); informal care (caregivers); and Supplemental Security Income payouts (government).1


There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis; however, there are different approaches employers can consider to help employees manage rheumatoid arthritis:21



Rheumatoid Arthritis in
the Workforce Brief

Learn about the burden of rheumatoid arthritis in the workplace.


Amgen Rheumatoid Arthritis
Population Health Website

Visit Amgen’s Population Health website for useful resources.

References: 1. Birnbaum H, Pike C, Kaufman R, Marynchenko M, Kidolezi Y, Cifaldi M. Societal cost of rheumatoid arthritis patients in the US. Curr Med Res Opin. 2010;26:77-90. 2. Sokka T. Work disability in early rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Ex Rheumatol. 2003;21:S71-S74. 3. Shourt CA, Crowson CS, Gabriel SE, Matteson EL. Orthopedic surgery among patients with rheumatoid arthritis 1980-2007: a population-based study focused on surgery rates, sex, and mortality. J Rheumatol. 2012;39:481-485. 4. Kleinman NL, Cifaldi MA, Smeeding JE, Shaw JW, Brook RA. Annual incremental health benefit costs and absenteeism among employees with and without rheumatoid arthritis. J Occup Environ Med. 2013;55:240-244. 5. McInnes IB, Schett G. The pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. N Engl J Med. 2011;365:2205-2219. 6. Gibofsky A. Overview of epidemiology, pathophysiology, and diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Manag Care. 2012;18:S295-S302. 7. Johnson BE. Arthritis: osteoarthritis, gout, & rheumatoid arthritis. In: South-Paul JE, Matheny SC, Lewis EL, eds. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Family Medicine. 4th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2015:1-32. 8. Owens GM. Optimizing rheumatoid arthritis therapy: using objective measures of disease activity to guide treatment. Am Health Drug Benefits. 2015;8:354-360. 9. van der Heijde DM. Radiographic imaging: the ‘gold standard’ for assessment of disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology. 2000;39:9-16. 10. Gwinnutt JM, Symmons DPM, MacGregor AJ, et al. Twenty-year outcome and association between early treatment and mortality and disability in an inception cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017;69:1566-1575. 11. Farragher TM, Lunt M, Fu B, Bunn D, Symmons DPM. Early treatment with, and time receiving, first disease- modifying antirheumatic drug predicts long-term function in patients with inflammatory polyarthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010;69:689-695. 12. Wiles NJ, Lunt M, Barrett EM, et al. Reduced disability at five years with early treatment of inflammatory polyarthritis: results from a large observational cohort, using propensity models to adjust for disease severity. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44:1033-1042. 13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html. March 5, 2019. Accessed January 7, 2020. 14. Rindfleisch JA, Muller D. Diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2005;72:1037-1047. 15. Myasoedova E, Crowson CS, Kremers HM, Therneau TM, Gabriel SE. Is the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis rising? Results from Olmsted County, Minnesota, 1955–2007. Arthritis Rheum. 2010;62:1576-1582. 16. Wasserman AM. Diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84:1245-1252. 17. Tehlirian CV, Bathon JM. Rheumatoid arthritis. In: Klippel JH, Stone JH, Crofford LJ, White PH, eds. Primer on Rheumatic Diseases. 13th ed. New York, NY: Springer; 2008:114-141. 18. Kavanaugh A, Cush JC, Polisson RP. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pathogenesis, Clinical Features, and Treatment. 2b3ed17f617009b57f9ef36f6cbb4a46819ef110#paper-header. 2007. Accessed January 7, 2020. 19. Allaire S, Wolfe F, Niu J, Lavalley MP. Contemporary prevalence and incidence of work disability associated with rheumatoid arthritis in the US. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;59: 474-480. 20. van Vilsteren M, Boot CRL, Knol DL, et al. Productivity at work and quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015;16:107. 21. Mayo Clinic. Rheumatoid arthritis. treatment/drc-20353653. 2019. Accessed January 7, 2020. 22. Job Accommodation Network. Accommodation and compliance series: employees with arthritis. https://askjan. org/publications/Disability-Downloads.cfm?pubid=162582. January 24, 2019. Accessed November 25, 2019. 23. Gignac MAM, Ibrahim S, Smith PM, Kristman V, Beaton DE, Mustard CA. The role of sex, gender, health factors, and job context in workplace accommodation use among men and women with arthritis. Ann Work Expo Health. 2018;62:490-504. 24. Singh JA, Saag KG, Bridges SL Jr, et al. 2015 American College of Rheumatology guideline for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016;68:1-25.