Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Social Security Insurance
For people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome to the extent that they are no longer able to work, qualifying for SSDI or SSI can be frustrating. Strictly speaking, the SSA does not consider carpel tunnel to be a debilitating condition on its own, so they often deny benefits upon initial application.
However, it is possible to get SSDI or SSI for carpal tunnel syndrome in certain situations. Several scenarios exist where people have proven an inability to work because of the condition. Often people have to go through the appeal process to prove it. That’s where the skills and experience of a qualified attorney can make a substantial difference in your efforts.
Proving a Disability Due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
For some people, simply wearing wrist splints and doing regular, specialized exercises is enough to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. For others, surgery to sever the ligament causing the pressure and nerve pain is successful. For others still, no amount of treatment or surgery provides relief, especially in cases where carpal tunnel is a byproduct of rheumatoid arthritis.
Even for people who do get some relief from surgery, a lingering weakness in the affected hand or hands can remain, making certain tasks difficult or impossible. The SSA is not heartless and understands that these circumstances can and do exist — they are willing to hear each case on an individual basis. You just have to be sure that you provide every shred of medical evidence you have. This might include:
- Tests proving muscular weakness, such as an electromyography or thumb weakness test.
- Tests or documentation of sensory disturbances or nerve damage from the compressed or injured nerve, such as a pressure test, tourniquet test, nerve conduction study or Tinel’s sign.
- Results from Phalen’s test that prove symptoms exist under medically relevant circumstances.
SSA Considerations for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The SSA may also look at any imaging tests that are available, along with the records of various treatments you have tried. It might be determined that a primary condition, such as arthritis, diabetes, lupus or kidney failure, has caused or contributed to the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. In these cases, the SSA may make a determination that you qualify for benefits based on the primary condition and the debilitating effects it has had on the rest of your body.
SSA will also consider your age, education, and the type of work you have done in the past to see if you have any work-related skills that can be used even with the limitations from your carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s important to note that there are no standards for carpal tunnel syndrome in the SSA’s blue book of qualifying conditions. If you’re going to qualify for benefits, it is usually because you can prove another condition that does qualify, or you have other adverse vocational factors.
Because carpal tunnel disability cases can be so complex and difficult to prove, a disability attorney will be able to help you through the process. You can arrange for a free consultation by contacting the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco to get started.