Any person diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome has the right to apply for Social Security disability benefits, as long as it impairs, limits or prevents you from working.
As all conditions we need to inform you that as most conditions the Social Security Administration does not approve most claims at the initial level, in particular since the Social Security Administration denies over 82% of all initial claims according to their own statistics and at the hearing level it is a little over 50% of cases that are approved, so your bet is going to a hearing represented by an experienced attorney.
According to various medical definitions of carpal tunnel syndrome it occurs when there is pressure on a nerve in the wrist caused by swelling. The nerve affected is called the median nerve, which provides feelings to different parts of the hand. Repetitive motions or movements of the hand and the wrist are the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome (such as typing, writing or RSI) with typing being one of the most common causes. Other causes of carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by injuries to the wrist or diseases like arthritis or lupus.
What disability symptoms caused by my carpal tunnel syndrome does Social Security consider in my disability claim?
As you know carpal tunnel symptoms include weakness in your hands, numbness or tingling in your thumbs, the next two fingers, and in your palms, also difficulty grasping or carrying item, difficulty moving your fingers, and also by pain in the arm, wrist, and hand.
First, Social Security will consider your medical records and what they say and what they do not say. They should not challenge your doctor’s diagnoses but often they do so.
Second, they will be looking in your medical records how does your doctor refer to your condition as mild, moderate, severe or extreme.
Third, are there x-rays, CT-Scans or MRI which determine that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, again location and severity.
Fourth, your type of treatment for your carpal tunnel, does it include wearing splint on the affected wrist to sleep or all the time, has your doctor recommend making changes to your work environment to alleviate symptoms or prevent them from becoming worse, and are you taking your medications.
Has your doctor recommend surgery, such as surgery to cut the ligament that is pushing on the nerve which can be performed if other treatments do not work?
Again, here is where Social Security evaluates your claim, is your treatment working and has the surgery alleviate the symptoms or pain according to your medical records. Sometimes the surgery records read that the surgery was a success, that the medication alleviates your pain.
This is an area that I ask my clients to read their medical records and discuss them with their doctors, since most of the times they fail to say the fact that even with surgery and treatment you may be left with permanent weakness, numbness and tingling or simply that the surgery may not have improve your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms or should have additional conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It is imperative that you get your doctor to state how your carpal tunnel syndrome limits your abilities wo use your hands, fingers, and wrist frequently, occasionally, moderately, or severely and in tie limitations such as to use 2 hours in an 8-hour period or 4 hours in an 8-hour period, etc. In number of pounds, you can lift occasionally or frequently ability to push, pull, reach, or climb, again, occasionally, frequently exact numbers.
The reality is Social Security disability claims representative rarely find that the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome use to the level of disability and in fact they do not treat this condition any different than they do all other conditions and deny 82% of all initial claims.
The fact is that there is no impairment listing for carpal tunnel syndrome, and mostly is treated for if nerve damage or not.
An experience Social Security attorney should make a legal argument as to how your carpal tunnel syndrome prevents you from using your hands, wrist, and fingers repetitively which can and should end in an approval of your claim.
Finally, should you be one of thousands of people forced to file a claim because your carpal tunnel syndrome prevents you from working, please call me for an in person or phone consultation at 407-894-4779.