Is Carpal Tunnel A Disability?

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has become famous in recent years with increasing use of computers and phones. But is Carpal Tunnel a disability? Can you get disability benefits, and if so how can you go about applying? Let’s find out.

Carpal Tunnel affects 1 to 3 people per 1000 every year. It happens when the median nerve, which goes from the forearm into the palm, compresses at the wrist. It affects a person’s wrist movement and prevents them from doing daily activities such as lifting weights or cooking.

The SSA offers an extensive list of severe disabilities that automatically qualify for disability if the requirements are met. However, there isn’t a listing for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may be included in one of the SSA lists of impairments with respect to the arms and hands.

Is Carpal Tunnel A Disability

What Is CTS?

Carpal tunnel syndrome” (CTS) happens due to compression of the median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for providing feeling to most of your fingers and thumb.

The name derives from the “carpal tunnel,” a small canal-like structure made from bones and ligaments. The median nerve is housed in the carpal tunnel as it passes from the forearm to the wrist. When its gets compressed, it creates Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. 

The  most common cause of CTS is typing, which creates a repetitive stress injury (RSI) in the hands and wrist. This is because you have to continually do repetitive motions while typing.

Diagnosing and Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve compress as it passes through the carpal tunnel, causing carpal tunnel syndrome, a most painful entrapment neuroma of the upper extremity. 

The key symptoms of carpal tunnel include discomfort and numbness or tingling in the median nerve’s distribution, which comprises the palmar portion of the thumb, middle finger, and the radial portion of the finger.

Positive physical examination results, such as the flick signal, Phalen maneuver, and median nerve compression test, provide additional clues. 

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Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome a Disability?

There is no direct listing for Carpal Tunnel in the Blue Book. But you may still get the benefits under SSA since it is related to arms and hands.

For example, if you suffer from severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you can get benefits under SSA Listing 11.14, which deals with Peripheral Neuropathy or SSA Listing 14.00 for Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Is Carpal Tunnel A Disability

If you have carpal tunnel and can meet the requirements of the Blue Book listing, then the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be able to determine whether you have a disability and pay you disability-related benefits every month.

Since there is no carpal tunnel, you may be eligible in the field of disability benefits by applying that is comparable to one. The Blue Book is the list of ailments that can be considered to qualify as disabilities.

In most cases, those suffering from the carpal tunnel have an underlying medical issue and could be eligible through a different listing or even a list with similar symptoms, like arthritis, lupus, and peripheral neuropathy.

The two other conditions are:

  • The evidence that you are unable to be employed for the next 12 months
  • It is evident that the symptoms you are experiencing match an SSA Blue Book listing.

The last one is the most difficult because most SSA examiners don’t consider carpal tunnel syndrome to be disabling.

There is no specific listing in the Blue Book. There is no separate list within the Blue Book. Still, your application might be considered if your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms can be related to other categories within the Blue Book, such as arthritis, peripheral neuropathy or anemia, diabetes, etc.

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How Does the SSA Determine If Your CTS Makes You Disabled?

Social Security evaluates disability claims through a five step procedure to determine if you’re eligible in the disability benefits program under SSDI or SSI programs. The adjudicator utilizes the following assessment in every stage.

Step 1: Substantial Gainful Activity. SSA will consider whether you’re earning beyond what Social Security calls a “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA) threshold. You can’t make over $1,260 (as of 2020) on a net (pre-tax) each month.

However severe and painful your carpal tunnel syndrome or other ailments may be, if earning more than this every month (with some exceptions), the claim you filed will be denied technically.

Is Carpal Tunnel A Disability

Step 2: Severe Impairment. The SSA will assess whether your impairment is severe enough by using your available records of medical conditions and other evidences that you provide.

Step 3. Are you suffering from an impairment that is listed? In Step 3, the issue is whether your carpal tunnel syndrome corresponds to or is equal to the medical “listing.” The SSA has broken down the human body and the mind into 14 distinct impairment categories, referred to as “The Listing of Impairments. Carpal tunnel syndrome claims aren’t considered under a particular medical listing.

Step 4: Are you able to perform the work you have done in the past? The goal of Step 4 . is to establish if you can carry out work that you’ve done before. To determine what you’re competent to do, the adjudicator creates your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).

The adjudicator will assess your capacity to perform tasks such as lifting, carrying, pushing or reaching, pulling, handling and crouching, stooping, remembering, recognizing, etc. Your RFC could have certain limitations:

  • inability to lift or carry more than 10 pounds.
  • the inability to climb ropes or ladders,
  • failure to make use of your fingers to perform fine motor manipulation,
  • and many more.
Is Carpal Tunnel A Disability

Step 5. Are you able to perform another task? Step 5 examines whether you can perform another job, even if you haven’t done it previously. The adjudicator employs a similar Resilient Functional Capacity (RFC) that was developed in step 4 and takes into account your age, education, work experience, and Experience.

To begin, Social Security classifies your educational level according to:

  • Marginal (generally 6th grade or less)
  • Limited (usually 7th through 11th grade)
  • High school (and above)

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What Clinical Evidence Can I Use To Prove That I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

When filing for Social Security, having medical test results at your side could help you get it. Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed using a variety of tests, including:

  • Study of nerve conduction. This test determines how rapidly impulses pass through the nerves that control motion and sensation in your arms and hands.
  • Provocation test under duress. The doctor applies pressure to the nerve damage to see if there is any tingling or shock.
Is Carpal Tunnel A Disability

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your Carpal Tunnel is Severe

Like all procedures, carpal tunnel release has its risks. The wrist may become numb, and you may be prescribed medication to relax you and not feel discomfort (called local anesthesia) during the procedure.

Is Carpal Tunnel Surgery Painful?

People suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome are likely to suffer from the sensation of tingling or numbness on the fingers in just 60 minutes. The quicker symptoms manifest and the more severe carpal tunnel syndrome. The X-rays taken of the wrist can be requested if there’s restricted wrist movement or evidence of trauma or arthritis.

Does carpal tunnel Qualify for short-term Disability?

To be qualified for benefits for disability short-term, you must have an officially recognized diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome confirmed by medical evidence that is objective.

Wrap Up

If you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits. An insurance plan that covers both short & long disability benefits could give these benefits.

Short-term disability results are generally offered for conditions that keep you from working for fewer than six months. You may be entitled to long-term disability (LTD) compensation after that time period. Both forms of benefits have a waiting time. Usually, the waiting time for short-term claims is seven days, and the waiting period for LTD benefits is up to 6 months.

Thank you for reading, we hope this has been helpful in filing a claim for your carpal tunnel syndrome.As always, do write to us if you need any more help.