Is Carpal Tunnel considered a disability for SSD and SSI claims?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is considered to be a valid diagnosis and disability claims routinely feature this condition as a primary allegation. In some cases, it is the only condition listed and is disabling to the extent that SSD and SSI disability benefits are awarded.
This tends to happen less, of course, when cases are being decided at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels by disability examiners. However, this is true of most conditions and most claims. The majority of claims are denied at the first two levels, leaving most claimants in the position of having to give up on the process or file a second appeal for a hearing before a judge.
The Social Security Administration takes the position that any condition may be disabling and, therefore, may be characterized as a disability as long as it meets several basic criteria. This is true of carpal tunnel and it is considered a disability when the facts of the case show that it meets the SSA disability definition.
Part of that definition is that the condition must be medically determinable and it must be severe. When we say this, we mean that the condition must be medically verifiable, meaning it must be diagnosed by a medical professional. This medical professional must be a physician who is licensed to prescribe medication. This obviously includes M.D.s. Other physicians who are licensed and have the ability to prescribe medication include D.O.s.
It should be pointed out, though, that some medical professionals who are able to prescribe medication, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are not physicians. This is where it gets tricky. Because while these individuals can write an RX and can also diagnose, their medical statements, and diagnoses, are not accepted by the Social Security Administration unless their statements are signed off by a physician.
But in addition to being determinable and verifiable, the condition must exhibit severity. It must be severe and it must be severe enough that it impacts and reduces the ability to work.
The one fact that most claimants and potential claimants should remember is that, for Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims, the focus will always be on the limitations that are caused by the condition, not simply having the condition. So, in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, the diagnosis itself cannot win a case. Even if carpal tunnel was a condition included in the listings, the diagnosis alone would not be sufficient.
Carpal Tunnel is a painful condition. But because SSA focuses on functional limitations, a case cannot be won on the basis of carpal tunnel syndrome unless the medical evidence that is ultimately gathered demonstrates that the physical limitations eliminates the claimant's ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.
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.
Most popular topics on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability in North Carolina
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI
Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
How to get disability for depression
Getting disability for fibromyalgia
SSI disability for children with ADHD
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
How to file a disability application
What happens when you file a disability application?
If you are Denied for Disability, Should you File a new Application or File an Appeal of the Denial?
What happens after you file a disability application?
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
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Filing for Disability
Will Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arthritis in my hands qualify for disability?
Will I qualify for Social Security Disability SSI in California
Getting a Social Security Disability SSI Attorney in California
How long do disability claims take in California and why
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
Filing a disability application in Texas