If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually do not approve carpal tunnel syndrome claims on their first application, the chances of winning a disability case on an appeal are much greater.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure on a nerve in the wrist that is the result of swelling. The median nerve is affected and it supplies feelings to much of the hand. The most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive motion of the hands and wrist, so it is considered a form of repetitive stress injury, also known as RSI.
There can be other causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as diseases such as lupus or arthritis or injuries. There are debilitating symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, including pain, numbness, difficulty grasping or carrying, tingling, numbness and weakness of the hand. These combined symptoms can have a significant impact on your daily life.
There are several kinds of treatment options available for carpal tunnel syndrome such as wearing a splint on the impacted wrist, making environmental changes, and medication to alleviate the pain and swelling. In the more extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to cut the ligament that is pushing up against the nerve.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you have had to work enough to earn sufficient credits and to have paid in enough taxes to the SSA. If you are deemed eligible for benefits, you may have some dependents that are also eligible for benefits under your claim as well.
The disability claims process is complicated, and can be very time consuming. It can literally take months, and in some cases years to be approved for SSDI. There may be many denials and appeals for reconsideration. You need to supply the SSA with detailed medical records, all of your test records and evidence of how your condition has impacted your life.
The Cost of Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
According to Carpal Tunnel HQ, the cost of carpal tunnel treatment varies on the severity of the condition and if surgery is required what kind of surgery you need. While an open release surgery is less expensive than endoscopy, the open release takes much longer to heal and means more downtime.
On average, the cost of surgery at an outpatient surgery center runs about $2,500 while the cost of the procedure at a hospital runs about $5,354. The surgery is not the only expense involved with treating the condition though. Therapy may be required, routine doctor visits and scans may be necessary, and prescriptions and durable medical equipment expect to average about $29,000 during an individual’s lifetime.
The SSA Evaluation and Medical Qualifications
The SSA uses its medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if a condition meets the requirements to qualify for SSDI. There is no impairment listing for carpal tunnel syndrome in the Blue Book. However, if there is nerve damage, your problem could be classified as peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy has very difficult requirements to meet, especially for an individual with carpal tunnel syndrome. When the ligaments are involved, carpal tunnel syndrome may cause you to lose functionality of your hands and wrists, which could classify you as disabled under the Blue Book listing for soft tissue injuries.
Carpal tunnel syndrome may also be a symptom of a disease that is listed as an impairment. Possible impairments that may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include diabetes, scleroderma, arthritis, kidney failure or lupus. If you have any of those conditions, you should see if you qualify using one of those impairments then list carpal tunnel syndrome as a secondary problem.
Meeting Disability Criteria with an RFC
Just because carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t meet a Blue Book listing for fast approval for benefits does not mean that you won’t be able to be approved for SSDI benefits otherwise. You may be able to qualify with a medical vocational allowance that involves a residual functioning capacity (RFC) form.
This is a detailed form completed by your doctor to explain your condition, the severity of your symptoms and how it impacts your ability to work. As an example, with carpal tunnel syndrome you are not able to lift more than 5 or 6 pounds or grasp onto objects, so that needs to be noted so the Disability Determination Services team can take that into consideration as part of your claim.
Other medical conditions, medications and side effects or symptoms should also be included so those who make the decision can get a clearer picture of how your life is impacted by your conditions. It should indicate how frequently you need to reposition yourself, how you are unable to type or use machinery that involves repetitive hand and wrist motion and so forth.
This approach also involves the Disability Determination Services team considering your age, work experience, work skills, educational level and if any of your skills can be transferred to another kind of work that would not be affected by your medical conditions.
When you use the RFC and medical vocational allowance approach, you need to provide plenty of detailed documents so a proper decision can be made. This process involves medical records, doctor notes, surgical notes, test results, prescription records and details about how your functions have changed since the onset of the problem.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Case for Disability
Several tests are done to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. These tests include MRIs and X-rays as well as examinations by physicians to determine tender points and how the range of movement has been impacted.
If the SSA determines more information is needed despite having access to your extensive medical records, a medical evaluation may be ordered. This is an evaluation by a physician for informational purposes to confirm diagnosis and symptoms. It is paid for by the SSA. It can play a major role in the disability determination process. In some instances, a mental evaluation is ordered to determine if you have been impacted emotionally or mentally by your condition as pain and immobility can add to the stress.
If you are interested in starting your application for SSDI benefits because of carpal tunnel syndrome, visit the SSA website at www.ssa.gov or call (800) 772-1213 to get the process started.
Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Disability Case
If you are disabled because of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that is severe enough to prevent you from working, you may very well be entitled to Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. Although total disability based on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be difficult to prove because the SSA has no specific listing for the condition, working closely with medical professionals and a qualified Social Security disability attorney or advocate to collect and present the appropriate documentation to support your disability claim can help to ensure that your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome disability case will have the best possible chance of success.