Also referred to as median nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome is part of a class of medical ailments called repetitive motion injuries.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can afflict a wide variety of professionals, from accountants that type all day at a desk to construction workers that perform numerous similar movements of one or both arms.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness and/or weakness in one or both hands. However, severe symptoms of a repetitive motion injury can force a worker to miss a significant amount of time.
When a worker has to leave a job because of severe carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, the worker has a functional limitation that prevents the worker from making a living.
This means the worker has to consider filing a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim to replace the income lost because of a functional limitation.
Applying for SSD with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
As the federal agency that manages the SSD program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a team of medical examiners refer to a resource called the Blue Book to determine eligibility for financial assistance.
Unfortunately, the Blue Book does not include a listing for carpal tunnel syndrome. As a result, the SSA might not approve an SSD claim unless an applicant gets approval for a Medical Vocational Allowance.
A Medical Vocational Allowance for carpal tunnel syndrome requires you to prove that the symptoms of the medical condition are serious enough to limit your ability to complete job-related projects.
For example, a stock analyst that spends most of the day typing up reports can end up suffering from serious pain in the hands and wrists.
Unable to perform the standard duties of the stock analyst job description, the worker can seek a Medical Vocational Allowance to receive financial assistance.
How a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment Can Help You
Since a majority of SSD claims comes back denied by the SSA, applicants can either file an appeal or undergo a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment.
Based on medical evidence and statements made by a manager from your employer, the team of medical examiners at the SSA uses an RFC assessment to determine whether you are capable of completing standard job functions.
For a worker employed at a sorting station, a repetitive motion injury such as carpal tunnel symptoms can trigger debilitating painful symptoms through the hands, writes, and arms.
You can expect the SSA specialist conducting the RFC assessment to test both hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders to determine the severity of your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
For example, the SSD specialist might ask you to squeeze a tennis ball 10 times in each hand to determine the level of pain that you experience.
Support Your SSD Claim with Documentation
An SSD application is just the first part of the claim process. You have to submit medical documents that provide the SSA with proof that you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
The SSA also wants to know your prognosis, which your physicians should submit along with your SSD claim. Because SSD benefits also pay for the cost of treating carpal tunnel syndrome, you should include copies of receipts for medications and the costs associated with a rehabilitation regimen.
Get Help with Your SSD Claim
Having an SSD advocate on your side can reduce or even eliminate the confusion and frustration that accompanies the SSD claim process. An SSD advocate is especially important to have as an ally when you complete the SSD application.