Dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be incredibly frustrating. While you are in excruciating pain and unable to work, you may also be dealing with employers, coworkers, and even loved ones who do not take your complaints seriously. Until you have experienced it for yourself, it is difficult to believe that one little nerve could cause so much pain.
This may be why the Social Security Administration does not specifically list CTS in its “blue book” of impairments. This does not, however, mean that someone who cannot work because of their carpal tunnel syndrome is unable to qualify for disability benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Seelig Law Offices has helped several clients in the New York City area successfully apply for and receive disability benefits after they were diagnosed with CTS.
As anyone who has experienced carpal tunnel syndrome knows, it causes weakness in the hand, numbness, or tingling in the thumb, the next two fingers and the palms, difficulty moving your fingers, difficulty gripping or carrying items, and pain in the arm, wrist, and hand. At its worst, it prevents you from using your hands to do anything strenuous or repetitive at all.
What kind of job can you get to support yourself if you are unable to use your hands? How can you care for yourself or your family if you can’t use your hands? We’re still waiting on a good answer to these questions, yet the Social Security Administration does not explicitly consider CTS a disability.
Since carpal tunnel syndrome is not explicitly listed as a disability, the Social Security Administration requires anyone applying for disability benefits because they have CTS to prove they meet the agency’s definition of disabled.
The tool used by the Social Security Administration to make this determination is the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. The agency will look at the medical records you submit with your application for benefits and assess your ability to meet the physical and mental demands of the workplace.
They will look at your exertional capacity, which is your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, and pull; your non-exertional capacity, which includes stooping, bending, climbing; and your manipulative abilities which include handling objects, reaching, and fine finger movements.
Then comes an assessment of your mental abilities. Though CTS is a physical impairment, don’t discount the mental ability portions of the assessment. The pain of CTS can make it difficult to concentrate and finish tasks.
Based on their assessment of your medical records, the agency will then determine your ability to do sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work. If your medical records suggest that your CTS significantly limits the type of work you can do, the agency may deem you disabled and eligible for benefits.
Working with a member of the Seelig Law Group as you prepare to apply for disability benefits after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome can significantly improve your chances of being approved for benefits.
Unfortunately, being diagnosed with CTS is rarely enough to get you the benefits you deserve. Our team knows what sort of specific medical documentation agency officials want to see in order to deem you disabled. We can help you get your paperwork in order so you have a fighting chance of being approved on your initial application, or upon appeal of an initial denial.