Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common types of musculoskeletal injuries, and affects millions of people each year. CTS typically does not cause severe enough symptoms to qualify someone for Social Security disability benefits. However, if your condition prevents you from working or is accompanied by other conditions, you may still be able to meet the criteria for disability. For help getting Social Security disability for carpal tunnel syndrome in Raleigh, call Lunn and Forro, PLLC at 888-966-6566 for a free consult.
Can I qualify as disabled for my carpal tunnel syndrome?
In its Blue Book, the Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps a listing of impairments and the criteria claimants must meet to qualify as disabled. CTS is not one of the listed conditions. However, there may still be a chance you can qualify for benefits. If your CTS is a symptom of a disease on the list of impairments, such as lupus, diabetes, or arthritis, then you may be able to qualify under those listings.
There are two other listings in other sections of the Blue Book that may apply to those with severe cases of CTS. If you meet the following severity criteria under either of the following two categories, the SSA will consider you disabled:
- Peripheral neuropathy: To qualify under listing 14: Peripheral Neuropathy, you must either have 1) disorganization of motor function in two extremities (e.g., your wrists, hands, and/or fingers) that results in an extreme limitation to use your upper extremities, or 2) a marked limitation in the ability to manage yourself.
- Soft tissue injury: To qualify under listing 08: Soft Tissue Injury, you will need to show that continuing surgical management has not restored your motor function and a doctor does not expect restored function within 12 months of onset.
Is there another way to qualify as disabled if I do not meet a listing?
In cases where a claimant does not meet the criteria for any listing, the SSA will assess his/her residual functional capacity (RFC) to see if s/he can still work at his/her current job or adjust to a new job. The claims examiner will use an RFC form to analyze the claimant’s limitations and determine if there are any jobs s/he can still do despite his/her CTS.
During this assessment, the SSA will gauge how well you can perform simple tasks such as climbing and handling objects. If the SSA finds that, after considering your limitations, age, education, and training, there are no jobs that you can do, it may grant you disability benefits based on a medical vocational allowance.
How do I prove my disability to the SSA?
You will need thorough, up-to-date medical records to establish your disability with the SSA. It will want to see:
- Imaging tests that verify your condition
- Records of CTS surgeries and their outcomes
- A list of all treatments you have undergone to correct your CTS or manage your symptoms, including physical therapy and medications
- Your doctor’s detailed input about your limitations and work restrictions
You can also submit letters to the SSA from people who know about the severity of your condition and how it affects your ability to work, such as from your spouse, boss, co-workers, employment case manager, social workers, etc.
Note: Without adequate and convincing evidence that proves the extent of your CTS, the SSA will deny your disability claim. We will help you gather evidence and use it to build the strongest case possible for benefits. We may obtain testimony from medical experts to prove the severity of your condition and help get you the maximum benefit.
What are the other requirements for disability benefits?
The first part of meeting the requirements for Social Security disability is proving that you either meet a listing, or otherwise cannot work because of your symptoms. You must also prove that your impairment has lasted or is expected to last a year or longer.
Once you have established this, you will need to meet certain financial or work credit requirements, depending on which disability benefit you are applying for. The SSA has two separate disability programs:
- Supplemental Security Income: SSI is for disabled people with limited work history, limited income, and few assets. To qualify, your income must fall below a certain threshold ($733 in 2016) and your assets (not including your home and car) must have a value of $2,000 or less ($3,000 for married couples).
- Social Security Disability Insurance: SSDI is for disabled workers who have worked at job where they paid Social Security taxes. To qualify for SSDI, you will need a certain number of work credits on your record. The number required depends on your age; the older you are, the more credits you must have.
We will examine your case to determine whether you qualify for SSI or SSDI and identify any other criteria you might need to qualify.
What if the SSA denied my disability claim?
Getting approved for disability benefits is quite challenging, especially for an impairment such as carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, the SSA denies the majority of the claims it receives. The good news is that you have the right to appeal your case, and there are many people who wind up winning their benefits when they file an appeal.
There is a short, 60-day time limit on when you are allowed to initiate an appeal with the SSA. If the SSA has recently denied your benefits application, contact a disability lawyer in Raleigh at Lunn and Forro, PLLC to discuss your case, and let us help you exercise your rights and pursue the benefits you need: 888-966-6566.