Facts about Repetitive Stress Injury and Filing for Disability
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.
Facts about the condition
1. Repetitive stress injury (RSI) is also known as regional musculoskeletal disorder, overuse syndrome, repetitive strain injury, cumulative trauma disorder, occupational overuse syndrome, repetitive motion disorder, and repetitive motion injuries.
2. RSI is an injury that is caused by doing repetitive tasks or repetitively being in awkward positions for a sustained amount of time. These injuries affect the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system and usually result in tissue damage, muscle strain or inflammation.
3. One of the most common causes of repetitive stress injury currently is using a computer keyboard and mouse, although there are many different repetitive tasks that can cause RSI, from playing tennis or golf, repetitively lifting boxes, and playing a musical instrument, to repetitively scanning items at a grocery store. Basically any repetitive motion done for a sustained amount of time can cause RSI.
4. Symptoms may include pain, weakness, tingling, numbness, stiffness, soreness, and fatigue in the affected area. There may also be a clicking or popping sensation in the affected area.
5. Studies have shown that RSI most commonly affects the hands, wrists, shoulders, and back.
6. Repetitive stress injury is an 'umbrella term' that is used for nonspecific illnesses and other activity-related pain, which can include gamer's thumb, cuber's thumb, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, epicondylitis, Golfer's elbow, Tennis elbow, thoracic outlet syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome, and more.
7. Ergonomics can often help decrease the risk for RSI, as can regular exercise, according to studies. Setting break timers if possible, and can also help if doing repetitive motions over a long period of time.
8. In some cases of RSI doctors will prescribe therapy, pain medications or braces.
9. Studies have shown that psychological stress can make pain associated with RSI worse, by nearly double, and many doctors believe that stress may be the cause of the pain due to RSI, and not just merely a symptom.
Qualifying 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 and treatment notes that 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 also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.
In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.
Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits 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. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.
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?
There are several reasons but here are just two:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.
Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.
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. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.
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?
Related Body System Impairments:
Am I disabled with degenerative arthritis, bone spurs in neck, spine and hips, and joint space narrowing?
Will Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arthritis in my hands qualify for disability?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Filing for Disability
Osteoarthritis and Filing for Disability
Repetitive Stress Injury and Filing for Disability
Facet Arthritis and Filing for Disability
Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Filing for Disability
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Psoriatic Arthritis and Filing for Disability
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Filing for Disability
Arthralgia and Filing for Disability
If you apply for disability in in Georgia
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Georgia?