This study explores the potential of the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) score as a clinical indicator that can be used to suggest comprehensive multidisciplinary assessments, by relating it to more general aspects of disability. In a cohort of 132 patients with early RA (mean age 55, 68% women), 28 joint count Disease Activity Scores (DAS-28), HAQ, and Short Form 36 (SF-36) scores were registered at annual follow-up visits 8 years after diagnosis. The patients were tentatively sub-grouped into a high-HAQ group (HAQ ≥ 1 at the 8-year follow-up) and a low-HAQ group. The high-HAQ group, comprising 36% of the cohort, had a higher mean HAQ score at inclusion and beyond at all visits compared to the low-HAQ group, and 24% of all individual patients in the high-HAQ group had a HAQ score ≥ 1 at inclusion. Although the DAS-28 improved in both groups, patients in the high-HAQ group also had significantly more persistent disability according to the SF-36: five scales at each follow-up visit and all eight scales at the majority of the visits. Individual RA patients with HAQ ≥ 1 probably have considerable persistent disabilities according to the SF-36. The HAQ score could be used as a clinical indicator suggesting comprehensive multidisciplinary assessments of the components of disability and corresponding interventions, in addition to the established use of HAQ at group levels and in parallel with the medication strategy based on DAS-28.