Mar 16th, 2018

Disability Benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

If you have tingling, numbness or weakness in your hand, thumb or fingers, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The disorder is also characterized by difficulty moving fingers and gripping objects, and is accompanied by pain in your fingers, hand, wrist or arm.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Pressure from repetitive motion injury creates swelling in the median nerve in the wrist. The swelling constricts the nerves, tendons and ligaments, leading to the symptoms described above. Repetitive motion injuries (also called repetitive stress injury or RSI) like typing cause carpal tunnel syndrome, and so does arthritis.

To obtain disability benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome or any disorder, patients must meet the criteria in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) book of impairment listings known as the Blue Book. Keep in mind that disability is determined by your inability to work due to your injury. Unfortunately, the SSA does not typically rule in favor of awarding disability benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome. They typically find that the disability is not severe enough to warrant disability payments, so they don’t have specific impairment listings for this disorder.

Other Ways To Obtain Benefits

However, there are three other ways you might qualify for disability benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome. First, if you can show that you equal or meet an impairment listing in another area, SSA might consider you for disability benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, you can apply under an impairment listing for soft tissue damage or nerve damage like peripheral neuropathy. The SSA requirements are still difficult to meet, but it is worth a try. Some people have obtained benefits this way, for severe nerve damage or for ligament damage that has caused them to lose function in the wrists and hands.

The second way you can apply for disability benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome is if your CTS is a secondary symptom of another disease such as arthritis. There are several diseases that include carpal tunnel as a symptom, including arthritis, diabetes and kidney failure, as well as lupus and scleroderma. You would apply for disability under the primary listing and list your carpal tunnel as a related condition.

The third is called a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment whereby you can show you’re your CTS creates limitations severe enough to leave you unable to work. SSA will assess your ability to perform your job and the level of physical exertion you are able to muster. Then, they’ll classify you in a range of jobs (sedentary work, light work, heavy work, etc.) and determine your ability to perform jobs in that category.

Medical Evidence

Regardless of how you file, you will need medical evidence. First, you’ll need a clear diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, which can sometimes be difficult to obtain. The SSA will want to see evidence that one or more of the following diagnostic tests has been completed:

· Electromyography to measure electrical activity

· Imaging, like ultrasounds and MRIs

· A thumb weakness test

· A pressure provocation test (wrist and hand)

· A Phalen’s test

· A tourniquet test of cuff pressure applied to the wrist

· Tinel’s sign test of the median nerve

· Nerve conduction study to measure nerve transmission through the wrist and hand

The SSA will also want to see that you’ve tried CTS treatments like wearing a splint or taking medication. In our experience, we’ve found that hiring a lawyer to obtain disability benefits is particularly useful in cases like carpal tunnel syndrome where the SSA does not list impairments and instead you have to qualify for the benefits in other ways.

Mar 13th, 2018

Disability Benefits for Coronary Heart Disease

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does allow disability benefits for coronary heart disease, as well as for several types of common heart problems and diseases. Keep in mind that the focus of SSA disability is a work-based focus, meaning they look at whether your ability to work is impacted by your heart disease.

Disability Benefits for Coronary Heart Disease

With coronary heart disease, also called coronary artery disease (CAD), your heart has reduced capacity; the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen to work effectively, so pumping is compromised.

SSA does need medical evidence of your CAD. Common tests include EKGs, cardiac imaging tests and exercise stress tests. All of these tests measure your heart’s condition to pump. The SSA also wants to see physician notes about any restrictions your doctor has you on, such as limiting exertion, exercise or heavy lifting. These test results are very important to the SSA in making their determination, so include everything possible for as long of a history as you possibly can. For example, evidence of an EKG will show lack of oxygen to the heart muscle, and results of a treadmill exercise tolerance test (ETT) (stress test) will show how much exertion you can do before having chest pain or shortness of breath. The SSA has very specific guidelines for disability, including the number of ischemic attacks you’ve had in the last year, values for the ejection fraction in your heart, and a specific level of result for the stress test.

All of this evidence will be factored in to determine your work ability. Basically, SSA will determine if there are any jobs you can do. They’ll evaluate your current work, your age and your education into this equation.

The SSA maintains a listing of disabilities called the Blue Book, and there are several heart conditions that qualify:

· Coronary heart disease (ischemia) caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle

· Chronic congestive heart failure involving compromised pumping action

· Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm)

· Aneurysms in the aorta

· Venous insufficiency in which the leg veins cannot pump enough blood back up to the heart

· Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) caused by obstruction of large arteries in the legs

Coronary heart disease is usually evaluated in its own category, but CAD can lead to other issues like congestive heart failure, so your case might be evaluated under that category. However, most people are evaluated under the ischemic heart disease category, particularly if you’ve had a heart attack. Note that SSA no longer has a disability category for high blood pressure (hypertension). Instead, if you have hypertension, SSA will evaluate you under the category that caused the high blood pressure.

CAD makes it difficult for many adults to work. If you don’t automatically qualify for disability benefits for coronary heart disease under the SSA Blue Book listing, you could qualify under a residual functional capacity (RFC) category. The SSA will rate you on the type of work they think you can do, considering all your medical evidence. These categories range from sedentary to heavy work. If your doctor has imposed strict limitations on your exertion, you might only qualify for sedentary work. If there are no jobs in your company that you can do, then you may qualify for disability benefits this way. People over age 55 with little education have the best chances at qualifying for the medical vocational allowance under the RFC ruling.

You can file for disability online at ssa.gov, or you can go to your nearest SSA center. Filing can be complicated and many people are initially denied for lack of compelling medical evidence. That’s why many people choose to hire a law firm like ours. We can help you find the right category for filing, and make sure the SSA has all the evidence they need to make their determination regarding your disability benefits for coronary heart disease.

Mar 8th, 2018

How to get social security disability for degenerative disc disease

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is characterized by deterioration of the discs between vertebrae, which causes significant pain and can even lead to loss of mobility. Tears in the outer disc can occur, with scar tissue forming in an attempt to heal the injury. Repetitions in the tears and scarring lead to degeneration over time. DDD can occur in the neck (cervical spine), lumbar (lower back) or thoracic (mid-spine) regions.

degenerative joint disease

DDD is also called spondylosis or degenerative joint disease, and is often just part of the normal aging process as discs wear down and become damaged. When the cushioning effect is gone, pain and inflammation occurs at the site of the degenerated disc.

DDD can become very severe. A person can have so much pain and inflammation that he or she becomes unable to perform any meaningful work. DDD patients have trouble sitting, standing, lifting and bending, making many jobs difficult. When an individual has been unable to perform work or is expected to be unable to perform work for 12 months or more, that person may be eligible for disability.

Disability benefits are a monthly amount of earnings determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA maintains a list of qualifying conditions called the Blue Book. Unfortunately, DDD is not listed as a disability. SSA has determined that most back pain associated with DDD is intermittent, so patients who do qualify have to have severe issues like assistance walking with a walker or other aid, or nerve problems caused by the DDD, like numbness and tingling, pain radiating down the legs, muscle weakness, or loss of reflexes.

If a patient can prove that DDD has led to nerve problems or even to other more serious back problems, the SSA does recognize these as a disability claim for degenerative disc disease. Bone spurs that cause spinal nerve root compression are covered, and so are herniated discs. Degenerative joint disease leading to spinal stenosis and arachnoiditis are also covered.

However, there is an alternative way to file a disability claim for degenerative disc disease under SSA’s medical-vocational allowance. If a person can show reduced functional capacity to work, you might be able to qualify.

To go this route, the SSA requires detailed doctor’s notes on functional limitations and restrictions. SSA needs objective medical evidence about the severity of the condition, how long the patient has had it, responses to treatments, and functional limitations. Remember you must have had the disability for at least 12 months, or show compelling evidence that a newer injury is expected to last for 12 months. You will need to produce clinical records like MRI, CT, or x-rays that have been done, blood work, and other records. The SSA will not accept medical evidence from chiropractors—only licensed physicians or specialists like orthopedists, neurologists, and other doctors. Medical evidence from any approved source (including a hospital or clinic) is acceptable.

If you don’t have sufficient evidence of ongoing medical treatment, SSA will require you to see a medical doctor hired by SSA to perform an independent medical exam. These exams are very minimal and definitely not as comprehensive as if you had your own physician’s records. The examiner gathers just enough information to make a decision. This may not be in your best interest because generally they do not approve disability benefits.

SSA will also rate you on your ability to do work (light work, medium work, etc.) For example, if you can only lift 25 pounds, SSA will rate you for light work only.

Age, education level, and past work experience are all factored in, and SSA prefers that you be retrained for another job that is within your ability. People over age 50, since they’re closer to retirement age, are more likely to be approved for disability.