Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t always make it easy for those with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) to get the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits they deserve. Many claims are denied because SSA says:
(1) Your CTS, as a symptom of diabetes, arthritis, lupus, scleroderma or kidney failure, doesn’t meet the requirements of or is the equivalent of a Medical Listing,
(2) You can return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled, or
(3) There is other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity.
Not all cases of carpal tunnel are severe enough to make you eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, but Nancy Cavey has successfully represented many SSA applicants with carpal tunnel syndrome. She works to overcome the claims denial by working closely with you and your physician to show that:
- Your limitations are too great for you to work at your old job or any other job in the national economy in view of your age, education and transferable work skills.
She offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your Social Security disability claim.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is excess pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, the nerve that allows feeling and movement to parts of the hand. CTS can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness and even muscle damage to the hand and fingers.
It can result from repetitive or strained hand movement, such as working on a computer or with instruments like dental equipment. CTS also can be caused by vibration.
Medical conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid disorder, menopause and even pregnancy, also can cause CTS.
What Are The Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS can cause pain, numbness and tingling that prevents you from doing any activity with your hands. You may be unable to:
- Lift or grip items as light as a coffee cup with dropping them;
- Pick up something as small as a penny;
- Unbutton a button; and
The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person and can differ based on the activity you are performing.
What Medical Evidence SSA Wants to See In A Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Claim
The diagnosis of CTS requires a history of classic CTS symptoms, specific physical findings and abnormal test results.
SSA will want to see:
- Thumb weakness,
- Positive Phalen’s test,
- Positive Tinel’s sign,
- Positive pressure provocation test,
- Nerve condition studies,
- Electromyography studies,
- Grip strength testing, and
- Dexterity testing.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and The Listing of Impairments
There is no listing for CTS in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.” However, CTS can be a symptom of diabetes, arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and kidney failure, which are listed impairments.
If you don’t meet or equal a listing for these conditions, SSA then will determine your entitlement to benefits based on medical and vocational criteria at Steps 4 and 5.
When Your CTS Makes It Impossible to Work
You will have to prove that you:
- Can’t return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled (PRW), and
- There isn’t any other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity (RFC).
SSA or, ultimately an Administrative Law Judge, will answer those questions by determining your residual functional capacity. Your RFC is what you can do despite your CTS.
Residual Functional Capacity For CTS
The SSA will review your medical records at the Initial Application and Reconsideration stage of the claims process and determine your functional capacity to perform sedentary, light, medium and heavy work.
SSA medical consultants often opine that a Social Security Disability applicant can do light and sedentary work, and that will result in a claims denial. The lower your RFC the more likely that you can’t return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years or perform other work. SSA doesn’t tell applicants or physicians about the existence and importance of properly completed RFC forms that will explain:
- How much and how often you can lift and carry,
- What problems you have with your grip,
- What problems you have manipulating your fingers, such as typing, filing or picking up small objects,
- How your pain interferes with your ability to concentrate and whether you have to alternate sitting and standing,
- Whether you have good days and bad days and how many days per month you would miss from work, and
- Whether you have any psychological problems, like depression, that would interfere with your ability to work.
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the questions on a carpal tunnel syndrome RFC form. But you can see that having an explanation of what you can do physically and emotionally is key to winning your case.
Many SSA cases are lost because the applicant did not obtain an RFC or the right RFC form, or because their treating physician didn’t properly complete the RFC form. That is one of the many reasons you should have an experienced Social Security attorney like Nancy L. Cavey represent you in your claim.
How Your Residual Functional Capacity Is Used At A Social Security Hearing
Many claims are denied both at the Initial Application and Request For Reconsideration stages of the claims process.
At the hearing stage, the Administrative Law Judge will determine your RFC and give hypotheticals to the vocational evaluator (VE) who will testify at your hearing. The judge will ask the VE to take into consideration your RFC, as determined by the judge, your age, education and prior work experience in determining:
- Whether you can return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years,
- Whether there is other work you can do or could learn to do.
It is crucial that you are represented at a hearing to make sure the right questions are asked of the VE.
How Do I Get The Social Security Disability Benefits I Deserve?
If you can’t work because of carpal tunnel syndrome or your doctor has told you to apply for Social Security disability, you should hire Nancy Cavey to help you:
- File your initial Social Security Disability application. The application process is confusing and designed so you make mistakes that can result in a delay or even a denial of your benefits.
- Appeal a wrongful denial of your Social Security disability application or Request for Reconsideration.
- File an Application for Hearing and represent you at the hearing with the Administrative Law Judge who will decide if you get benefits. She will have your physician, if possible, complete the right RFC(s), prepare you for the hearing, prepare a hearing brief, and be prepared to cross-examine the VE.
The SSA is in the business of denying claims and will use any reason to deny your benefits. The odds of getting your Social Security benefits are greater when you are represented by an experienced Social Security Disability attorney like Ms. Cavey.
Contact Social Security Disability Attorney Nancy L. Cavey, Who Can Help You Regardless of Where You Live in Florida
You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today with your carpal tunnel Social Security Disability claim! Ms. Cavey can explain the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation process used in every claim, the claims process and how to get your disability benefits. Call today for a free consultation at 727-894-3188.