Can you win a disability claim and be awarded benefits based on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a musculoskeletal condition and it would be included in section 1.00 of the adult SSA bluebook listings...if there were a listing for this condition.

What is the bluebook? The bluebook is the impairment listing manual used by disability examiners and judges to award benefits through Social Security Disability and SSI for specific medical conditions, either physical or mental, based on very specific and often detailed medical criteria.

Not every condition is included in the listings. Carpal Tunnel is one of those conditions that is not given a listing. Why this is the case is unclear. As section 1.00 states "Impairments may result from infectious, inflammatory, or degenerative processes". Obviously, carpal tunnel is a condition resulting from repetitive stress that usually involves significant pain and inflammation.

Note: for those who are curious, this section of the listings book does include individual listings that address the following: soft tissue injuries, certain fractures, disorders of the spine, major joint dysfucnction due to any cause, and reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint.

Getting disability based on carpal tunnel syndrome

Without the existence of a listing, can you win a disability case and get disability benefits for carpal tunnel?

The answer is yes. As there is no listing to qualify under, a claim that is solely based on CTS would need to be won via a medical vocational allowance, the type of approval that is made in most approved cases. This is where the determination is made that a person is so affected by their condition that they can no longer do their past work and cannot do any other type of work as well.

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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