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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.








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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.