Can I Get Social Security Disability for a Joint Dysfunction?

As people get older their joints can develop painful arthritis. This can be due to an accident, from working long years, or even from a surgery. However, older Arkansans aren’t the only people who may suffer from a joint dysfunction. People all over the state may find that they are unable to work because they have a major joint dysfunction, but they are not sure if they able to receive any aid.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability: the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Social Security Act) and the supplemental security income (SSI) program (title XVI of the Act).

What is a Major Dysfunction of a Joint?

According to the Social Security Administration a major dysfunction of a joint is characterized by any gross anatomical deformity. Examples of gross anatomical deformities include:

  • Subluxation,
  • Contracture
  • Bony ankylosis
  • Fibrous ankylosis

Additionally, Social Security also considers chronic joint pain and stiffness with signs of limitations of motion or other abnormal motions that affect joints.  In order for a person to be considered as having a major dysfunction of a joint they need to have the above mentions and

Involvement of one major peripheral weight-bearing joint resulting in inability to ambulate effectively,


Involvement of one major peripheral joint in each upper extremity (i.e., shoulder, elbow, or wrist-hand), resulting in inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively

What Are the Major Joints?

Social Security has determined that the major joints refer to the major peripheral joints. According to the Social Security Bluebook the major peripheral joints include:

  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Wrist-Hand
  • Ankle-foot

Under their definitions the wrist and hand are considered together as one major joint. The Social Security disability book alsk considers the ankle and the foot to be one joint.

What is Loss of Function?

Under this section, loss of function may be due to bone or joint deformity or destruction from any cause; miscellaneous disorders of the spine with or without radiculopathy or other neurological deficits; amputation; or fractures or soft tissue injuries, including burns, requiring prolonged periods of immobility or convalescence.

The Social Security disability book states under this section that it does not matter what the cause of a musculoskeletal impairment, functional loss for purposes of these listings as defined as the inability to ambulate or move effectively on a sustained basis for any reason. This can include pain that is associated with the underlying musculoskeletal impairment.  In order to qualify under this section you need to demonstrated that you have not been able to ambulate effectively or that you are unable to perform fine and gross movements for at least twelve months.  It is important to note that you must be unable to move the joint because of a physical impairment. The Social Security book explicitly states that for purposes for this section a person’s inability to move a joint cannot be based on a mental impairment. However, you may be able to secure benefits if you cannot move a joint because of a mental impairment under a different section.

How Does Social Security Determine Whether an Individual Can Ambulate Effectively?

In order to qualify for social security for a major joint dysfunction you will need to meet all the criteria set forth in the Bluebook Section 1.02. In addition, Social Security will determine if you are unable to move or ambulate effectively or if you can perform fine and gross movements based on the medical and other evidence in the case record. Social security measures these abilities in the upper body by testing to see if a person is able to:

  •  Reach
  •  Push
  •  Pull
  •  Grasp
  • And move ones’ fingers

Some examples of a person’s inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively include:

  • The inability to prepare a simple meal and feed yourself
  • The inability to take care of personal hygiene
  •  The inability to sort and handle papers or files
  • The inability to place files in a file cabinet at or above waist level.

Generally Social Security will not develop additional evidence about a person’s ability to perform specific examples of movements.

Who can Get Disability Benefits under Social Security?

Under the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Act), there are three basic categories of individuals who can qualify for benefits on the basis of disability:

  • A disabled insured worker under full retirement age.
  • An individual disabled since childhood (before age 22) who is a dependent of a parent entitled to title II disability or retirement benefits or was a dependent of a deceased insured parent.
  • A disabled widow or widower, age 50-60 if the deceased spouse was insured under Social Security.

Under title XVI, or SSI, a financially needy person can get payments based on disability under two basic categories:

  • An adult age 18 or over who is disabled.
  • A child (under age 18) who is disabled.

Social Security Disability is one of the largest federal programs providing assistance to people with disabilities who have left them unable to be substantially or gainfully employed. The program benefits those who worked long enough to be insured and who meet certain disability criteria. For people who meet the program requirements, they can receive cash benefits paid by the Social Security Administration. However, receiving a Social Security Disability benefits award is not an easy or straightforward process. Typically, a significant amount of medical, vocational, educational, and other evidence is required to qualify for benefits.

Let a Fayetteville, Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorney Work For You

For more than 20 years Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has worked to secure benefits for the people who need it most. If you or a loved one has a medical condition and cannot work, it is important to speak to a Fayetteville AR disability lawyer. You can arrange for a free legal consultation by calling (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.