Will Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arthritis in my hands qualify for disability?

I suffer from Carpal Tunnel and arthritis in both hands. I had surgery on the right Carpal Tunnel 20 years ago. Until the arthritis reared its ugly head a few years ago I managed ok. I recently broke the left wrist. Since then, the arthritis has come on with a vengeance in the left hand.

Now my Orthopaedic Dr. is ordering a test for Carpal Tunnel on that hand too. I get spasms in the left hand and the right hand totally and painfully locks up. Alone I don't think this would qualify for disability but together? I would like an outsiders opinion.

Thank You

I would say you have a fairly good chance of being approved for disability if you are age 55 or older and possibly 50-55 years of age. You do not say if you are working or not. If you are working and earning over the SGA limit (the Social Security Disability earnings limit) per month, it really does not matter what you have in terms of disabling conditions, your claim will be denied because in order to medically qualify for disability (either title II Social Security Disability benefits or title 16 SSI disability benefits: the programs are identical as far as the medical approval criteria is concerned) your condition has to prevent you from working.

In fact, your condition must be severe enough that it imposes sufficient functional limitations (either of a physical nature, mental nature, or both, i.e. claims very often, if not usually, take into account both physical and non-physical medical conditions) that you are left unable to work and earn a substantial and gainful income for a period of not less than one full year.

Note: The one year period of being unable to, as a result of your condition, work at the substantial gainful activity level does not need to have transpired by the time you actually file your disability. The disability examiner who is assigned to your case can review your medical records and make a projection as to your limitations, otherwise known as your residual functional capacity.

If you are not able to work, then I would suggest you schedule an interview for a disability application with your local Social Security office. You can initiate the filing process online, but my recommendation is to have the interview conducted with a live person so that any questions you might have can actually be answered. A claims representative will explain all the disability process and requirements to you.

I should also point out that, at this time, it is not possible to have an SSI disability claim taken online with a protected filing date. Many people on hearing this will assume that SSI does not apply to them; however, my experience as a disability examiner made it fairly clearly that a very high percentage of claims were, in fact, concurrent, meaning that they involved both SSD (Social Security Disability) and SSI together. In other words, many people who assume that their claim will only involve SSD are in error.

I hope this answers your question.

Related pages:

Is Carpal Tunnel a disability for SSD and SSI claims?
Can you get disability for carpal tunnel?
Will you get disability for carpal tunnel the first time you apply?
How to qualify for disability with carpal tunnel

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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