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Facts about Rotator Cuff 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. A rotator cuff injury involves damage to the muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade and help hold the ball of the upper arm into the socket of the shoulder.
2. Of all the joints in the body, the rotator cuff provides the greatest range of motion. Injuries usually occur from overhead repetitive motions (like throwing or lifting) but can also occur from impact, like a fall.
3. Symptoms of an injury to the rotator cuff include pain and tenderness in the shoulder. These sensations may be especially noticeable when reaching above and behind, lifting, pulling, and sleeping on the injured side. The shoulder may also be weaker than normal, have less range of motion, and the injured person may be less inclined to use the arm.
4. A severe injury may cause constant pain and weakness. Severe pain, pain that lasts longer than a week, and inability to use the affected arm are all signs that it is time to see a doctor.
5. There are certain factors that make some people more prone to rotator cuff injury. This includes a common factor, older age, but also includes lifestyle choices like being an athlete or working in construction and carpentry trades. Having poor posture and weak shoulder muscles are two other contributing factors that increase the risk of injury to the rotator cuff.
6. Most injuries are minor and will heal with home treatment, on their own. Appropriate care includes resting the affected shoulder, alternating application of ice and heat, taking over-the-counter pain medications like ibprofen or tylenol, and beginning gentle exercises after the first day or two.
7. More major injuries may require injection of steroid medication, surgery to repair tears, and even shoulder replacement surgery in the case of long-standing injury.
8. Staying active and limber is important to prevent injury. Daily exercises such as stretches and strengthening can help prevent future injuries.
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.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
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Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved
FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions
The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Related Body System Impairments:
Frozen Shoulder and Filing for Disability
Rotator Cuff Injury and Filing for Disability
Plantar Fasciitis and Filing for Disability
Hip replacement surgery and Filing for Disability
Total Hip Replacement and Filing for Disability
Hypermobility and Filing for Disability
Foot Drop and Filing for Disability
ACL injury and Filing for Disability
Post Polio Syndrome and Filing for Disability
Osteoporosis and Filing for Disability
Osteomyelitis and Filing for Disability
Osteogenesis Imperfecta and Filing for Disability
Marfan Syndrome and Filing for Disability
Muscular Dystrophy and Filing for Disability
Avascular Necrosis and Filing for Disability
Texas Permanent Disability Benefits
Eligibility and qualifying for disability in Texas
How Much Are Fees and Cost For a Disability Lawyer in Texas?
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it