Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits with Carpal Tunnel?

As computers become an increasingly important part of society, more and more Americans are employed in administrative jobs.  But unfortunately, these office settings can be extremely detrimental to physical health, commonly contributing to medical issues like carpal tunnel.  Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can cause pain and numbness in the hands and wrists, and can even necessitate surgery in very severe cases.  Ultimately, this debilitating condition can make it virtually impossible for sufferers to continue working.

However, even when you are unable to work, your financial obligations still continue to build. Your CTS may be keeping you away from your job, but you still need to pay your utilities, credit card bills, and manage your other expenses.  To help address this issue, the SSA, or Social Security Administration, offers millions of disabled Americans monthly benefits.  Can you qualify for disability benefits with carpal tunnel?

Applying for social security benefits is challenging – even for someone who is familiar with the process. Failing to retain legal counsel could result in an avoidable error. To discuss your legal options in a private consultation, or to learn more about how our firm can assist you, call our Arkansas disability benefits lawyers at (479) 316-0438 today.

Applying for Social Security Benefits is Challenging

If an injury or illness interferes with your employment, you may be able to obtain monthly assistance.  While these benefits are an excellent resource for applicants who qualify, the process of qualifying is notoriously difficult.  In Arkansas, the average approval rate during the 2020 fiscal year was only about 47% during the initial application stage.  In other words, about 63% of first-time claimants were denied.

While the statistics may seem discouraging, many people can and do qualify every day. A skilled and qualified attorney familiar with the social security system can help increase your chances of being approved. Our experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability attorneys have nearly 20 years of practical experience advocating on behalf of Arkansas residents who are seeking SSI and SSDI benefits. No matter which stage of the process you have reached — whether you are still preparing your very first claim, or you have already been denied — our firm is here to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Adversely Impacts Your Ability to Work

The Social Security Administration will not approve any individual for Social Security Disability Benefits unless they meet specific basic requirements. Most people who experience mild to moderate carpal tunnel require about a month to recover from surgery. However, not every person is affected in the same way.

Because carpal tunnel syndrome adversely impacts your ability to grip or use your hands, it will affect your ability to perform your job duties. It is not uncommon for individuals to struggle for months trying to work through the pain. When surgery is postponed for too long, a person is likely to suffer permanent nerve damage. While many people recover within thirty days of surgery, others take anywhere from a year to a year-and-a-half to regain normal use of their hands.

Age is also a crucial factor when trying to cope with carpal tunnel syndrome. Many younger employees will file a workers’ compensation claim because CTS results from repetitive motion and a work-related injury. Unfortunately, for many middle age or older workers, the effects of carpal tunnel could signal the end of their working career.

How Do I Qualify for Benefits With Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal tunnel is one of the more common medical conditions facing Americans today.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, CTS is the number one ranking cause of missed work in the United States and leads to more than 250,000 surgical procedures on an annual basis.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that women, elderly individuals, and people with diabetes are at an increased risk.  The Academy also reports that the average financial loss sustained by a CTS sufferer amounts to roughly $30,000 over the course of a lifetime.

In order to qualify for SSI or SSDI, you’ll need to meet several requirements imposed by the SSA. On the general level, regardless of which medical issue you have, all applicants must demonstrate that his or her disability:

  • Has lasted or will last for 12 months at a minimum, or will end in death.
  • Is severe enough to prohibit work.

Additionally, your income must not exceed $1,310 per month.

If these generic criteria are met, you will then be further evaluated based on your carpal tunnel. However, carpal tunnel is not included in the SSA’s “Blue Book” or Listing of Impairments, which means you must try to qualify via another route.

For example, you may be deemed eligible if you can show that the effects of your carpal tunnel match a Listing entry.  Carpal tunnel (and surgeries to treat carpal tunnel) can cause severe nerve damage, which may be able to qualify you under the Blue Book’s listing for peripheral neuropathy (Section 11.14, under Neurological Conditions).

Alternately, you might be successful with a medical-vocational allowance.  Medical-vocational allowances are used when a claimant experiences impairment, but his or her condition does not match any listings in the Blue Book.  You will need to undergo an RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) assessment, which will measure some of your basic abilities (e.g. walking, lifting). Depending on the results of your RFC assessment, your CTS could qualify you.

Related Health Issues That Could Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

As discussed above, there is no specific listing in the SSA’s Blue Book for carpal tunnel syndrome. However, other related health issues are included in the Listing of Impairments. If you could meet the qualifications of another listing, it could support your disability claim. If you are suffering from a condition that is typically associated with carpal tunnel, then you could be eligible for monthly disability benefits.

Some recent studies indicate that people who have type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Diabetes is a qualifying disability under the SSA guidelines.

Peripheral neuropathy is another qualifying condition that increases the risk of developing carpal tunnel. If your underlying cause of CTS is a neuropathy-related disorder, then with the help of your doctors and our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys, you could be approved for monthly payments.

Arthritis is a common infliction that impacts many people. Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among individuals who suffer from joint inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. This could be another avenue you could use to qualify for disability.

The likelihood you will develop carpal tunnel increases as your body mass index increases. In fact, people who demonstrate symptoms of obesity are 22% more likely to be affected by carpal tunnel. Our knowledgeable Bentonville Social Security Disability lawyers will investigate whether your impairment meets the requirements of a listed condition.

Why Social Security Disability Claims Based on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are Denied

The majority of Social Security Disability claims are denied. Applications based on carpal tunnel syndrome are no different. Because CTS is not a listed impairment in the Blue Book, your chances of eligibility are initially lower than average. Following are some of the most common reasons disability claims are denied in Arkansas.

Medical Documentation

The primary reason most Social Security Disability claims are denied, including those based on CTS, is insufficient medical evidence. If a person wants to qualify for benefits, it is their obligation to prove that their condition meets the listed requirements. If your medical records or documentation is incomplete or inconclusive, then your claim will likely be denied. Having our knowledgeable Bella Vista Social Security disability lawyers advocating on your behalf will increase your chances of success.

Your medical records must prove that you are disabled and unable to work. The records of your treating doctor are crucial in helping the SSA make a determination. Included in this information should be a letter from your treating physician detailing how your carpal tunnel affects your ability to perform your job duties. Simply indicating that you suffer from CTS is not enough to meet the SSA’s requirements. If you see multiple doctors or specialists, you should have letters from them as well. Our office will work with your physician and other specialists to gather documentation to support your claim.

Failure to Follow Treatment

In addition to the medical records you present to the SSA, you must continue any treatment your doctor prescribes. If you miss appointments, therapy, or fail to take prescribed medication, you increase the odds that your claim will be denied. Not cooperating with your treatment process could hurt your initial claim and any appeals you want to file.

Failure to Cooperate

Not cooperating with your doctors is one way to ensure your claim is denied. Another one is not cooperating with the Social Security Administration or adhering to the steps of the claims process. For example, if the SSA requests any documents, it is vital that you provide them in a timely manner. Additionally, you should not miss any appointments you have with the SSA, including any medical examinations. Mistakes in the application process, either errors or omissions, could doom your claim from the very beginning. Having legal representation from the very beginning of the process is a way to ensure some common mistakes do not occur. Hiring our skilled Arkansas Social Security lawyers early in the process could help move your application forward.

Previous Denials

If you are not working with our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys, you might believe that you should resubmit a claim if yours was initially denied. However, filing another claim is not a better alternative than appealing your original claim. If the person reviewing your claim for the SSA sees a previous denial, they are likely to deny your new claim on the same or similar grounds. In nearly every case, it is better to review the evidence and application you previously submitted to determine how you could further support your claim. Our office has the tools, resources, and personnel to handle complicated appeals on all levels.

Contact Our Experienced Social Security Disability Attorneys to Help Determine if You Qualify for Benefits

If you are living with disabling CTS, or if your motor function has been damaged by a related surgical procedure, you might be an excellent candidate for monthly benefits.  An experienced social security attorney can help you prepare the very strongest claim possible to boost your chances of success.  To schedule your confidential case evaluation, call our Fayetteville Social Security Disability attorneys at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.