Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Social Security Disability

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a systemic disease (it affects the central nervous system) which causes:

  • Swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Skin changes
  • Inflammation
  • Localized sensitivity to touch

Although it generally starts with one region of the body (i.e., an arm or leg), it can spread. The condition is also known as causalgia and reflex sympathetic dystrophy. There are two types of CRPS:

  • Type I. This type causes atrophy but does cause significant nerve lesions.
  • Type II. This type includes noticeable nerve damage. Type II is generally more painful and more difficult to manage effectively than Type I.

It is believed that Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome may be caused by surgery or injuries, but there are also many unexplained instances of the condition.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

The Social Security Administration recognizes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as a potential cause of disability, but the condition does not have its own listing in the Blue Book. The SSA does not differentiate between Type I and Type II. Instead, they adjudicate both types using their listing for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (essentially, Type I CRPS).

In order to qualify for Social Security disability with any kind of chronic pain, including CRPS, you must be able to show that you have had the condition for at least a year or that the condition is expected to last at least a year. You must have medical imaging which supports a diagnosis of CRPS.

A diagnosis of CRPS, in and of itself, will not qualify you or disability benefits. To determine whether you qualify, the SSA will look at your residual functional capacity. Essentially, they will consider how your condition affects your activities of daily living and work related activities. They will consider how your condition affects your ability to sit, stand, ambulate, push, pull, lift, bend, and perform other activities which are expected on a typical job site.

When you file your claim, you will need to emphasize all of the ways CRPS affects your ability to perform daily tasks. A CRPS disability claim can be denied if the SSA determines that you could potentially perform on any job available anywhere in the country for which you could reasonably be trained. In fact, the majority of disability claims based on CRPS are denied initially, leaving claimants to decide whether to pursue a lengthy appeals process or simply accept the SSA’s decision.

Can I Use My CRPS Disability Rating When Applying For Social Security Disability?

A CRPS is a disability rating that is given to a claimant for VA disability benefits. VA disability is given only for service-connected disabilities, which could be diseases or injuries. As an example, you could have suffered a spinal injury or contact with a chemical could have caused a neurological disorder or lung damage.

Your VA rating, also called a CRPS, is based on the severity of your disability associated with your service-connected condition. While your VA rating is evidence for your claim, it does not mean you will be approved for Social Security disability benefits.

While VA disability and Social Security disability are both government-operated programs, both have very different requirements. The VA only provides disability benefits for medical issues related directly to the claimant’s military service while Social Security disability claims consider all medical issues.

You can receive VA disability benefits for partial disability, but the SSA only gives disability benefits for individuals who are fully and completely disabled. You must be unable to work for at least a year to qualify for Social Security disability. While a CRPS rating can be used as supporting evidence in your disability claim, it is not a sure guarantee of a successful Social Security disability claim.

Many claimants receive both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as well as VA disability benefits. A disability attorney can help you maneuver the claims process, and determine how much your CRPS can help you with your Social Security disability claim.

Your Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Social Security Disability Case

Your chances of receiving an approval for Social Security disability benefits double when you are represented by a Social Security disability attorney. In part, this is because Social Security disability attorneys are thoroughly familiar with the requirements for disability and the manner in which SSA officials determine whether a claim is valid. Because of this, they are often able to suggest verbiage on disability claims which is more likely to be approved.

You are entitled to representation by a Social Security disability lawyer. Whether you are in the process of filing your initial claim or are in the midst of the appeals process, a Social Security lawyer can make all the difference between an approved claim and much needed benefits and a denial.

Perhaps the best part about using the services of a Social Security lawyer is that they will not charge you unless your benefits are approved. When your benefits are approved, the SSA pays your lawyer directly. Your lawyer’s fees are deducted from the back pay to which you are entitled. The maximum a Social Security lawyer can charge you is 25% of your back pay. Your ongoing benefits are left for what they are intended for-taking care of yourself and your dependents’ living expenses.

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