Fracture of an Upper Extremity and Social Security Disability

Fracture of an Upper Extremity – Condition and Symptoms

Broken bones are a much more common cause of long term disability than most might imagine. While most broken bones can and do heal much too quickly for Social Security Disability benefits to be a realistic possibility, there are cases where the bones do not properly set or heal and a person is left with a disability that can take longer than a year for recovery, or in which true recovery never happens.

In addition to the incredible pain and suffering caused by a fractured bone in the upper extremities (shoulder, arm, wrist, hand), broken bones in the upper limbs can make it impossible to perform many types of work, especially if both arms have a fracture. Depending on where the fracture is located and its severity, a number of physical functions needed in most jobs can be affected, including (but not limited to): 

  • Pulling
  • Pushing
  • Lifting
  • Tasks requiring manual dexterity
  • Grasping

Broken bones that do not heal properly are more likely to be fractured again in the future. Additionally, when one of the bones in your upper extremities is fractured, you may very well lose functional use of an arm or hand. Even when some use is regained, it may cause severe pain to use the arm or hand that was affected.

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Fracture of an Upper Extremity Diagnosis

As soon as you become aware that your disability is likely to keep you out of commission for twelve months or longer, you should file for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. Don’t wait for a full year to actually pass. Filing for benefits earlier (or at least informing the SSA of your intent to file) will help ensure that you get all of the benefits to which you are entitled.

When the SSA has it's own guide that is used to access disability claims. This is known as the Blue Book.


The exact specifications the SSA adjudicators use when making a determination on disability claims for upper extremity fractures are found in Section 1.07 of the Blue Book under the general heading of Musculoskeletal System. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of an upper extremity fracture, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The fractured bones must have nonunion, meaning they have not set or otherwise healed properly.
  • You must be under ongoing surgical care and management.
  • The disability resulting from the fracture must be expected to last at least a full year.

It is important to stay under medical care when applying for disability with any condition. This is especially true with upper extremity fractures, as the listing explicitly states that the claimant is required to be under a doctor’s care and that surgical attempts must be aimed at restoring the extremity’s functioning capacity.

If your upper extremity fracture is not sufficient enough to merit Social Security Disability benefits, you may qualify for benefits based on its effects combined with the effects of other disabling conditions.

For example, under the Social Security Administration’s guidelines, you don’t generally qualify for benefits if you have only lost the use of one arm or hand. If you have lost the use of one hand and one of your lower limbs, you meet the qualifications for a disability listing. Any combination of disabling conditions that cause your overall condition to be equivalent to one of the other listings on the Blue Book can be taken into consideration in your disability claim.

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Taken altogether, more than two thirds of all Social Security Disability claims are turned away the first time through. The numbers are even higher for upper extremity fracture claims. Sometimes this is because the disability does not meet the requirements for the SSA's definition of disability. However, the claimant more often does have a disability that could qualify for benefits, but the claim is not put together in a manner which gives them a legitimate chance of an approval.

Most claimants shy away from consulting a Social Security Disability lawyer because they are afraid it will be cost prohibitive. The fact that disability lawyers won’t charge you anything unless you are approved for benefits is one of the SSA’s best kept secrets. The fact is that 90% of claims represented by a qualified attorney are eventually approved.

You can expect straight answers from a Social Security Disability lawyer. If you don’t have a case, they will let you know the reasons why. If you do, they will fight for you to make sure that you receive all of the benefits you are entitled to.

You don’t have to go through the arduous claims and appeals process by yourself in your upper extremities fracture disability case. Fill out the attached request for a free evaluation and a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate will help walk you through the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits.

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