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Social Security Disability Definitions

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Facts about Bursitis and Filing for Disability

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

1. Bursitis affects the bursae, the small pads of fluids that act as cushions for the bones, muscle and tendons around joints. When bursae become inflamed, it is called bursitis. Bursitis typically appears in the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

2. Bursitis causes difficult and painful movement in the affected joint. Symptoms vary in severity, but include joint pain and stiffness. The pain can cause a burning sensation that radiates out to the areas surrounding the joint as well. Pain is often worse throughout the day due to activity and movement, and stiffness usually occurs when waking up in the morning. The area is often red, swollen and sensitive to the touch.

3. You should see a doctor for potential diagnosis of bursitis if you have disabling joint pain, pain that lasts for more than 2 weeks, or sharp, shooting pains when exercising. Swelling, redness, bruising or a rash in the affected joint area, as well as a fever, are also indicators that you should see a doctor.

4. Bursitis is typically caused by repetitive motions or irritating positions to the joints, such as frequent throwing and lifting, and prolonged kneeling or sitting. Sometimes bursae that are punctured then become infected, which is called septic bursitis and is most common in the knee and elbow joints where the bursae are close to the skin.

5. Risk factors for bursitis include age, certain occupations and hobbies, and other medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. Bursitis becomes more common among the middle aged. Those who do work such as flooring and gardening and play sports such as baseball, tennis and cycling are all more likely to develop bursitis due to the repetitive motions these activities require on the joints.

6. Treatment includes rest, ice, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications. For septic bursitis, antibiotics are necessary.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews