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Not all shoulder injuries are alike, and not everyone who suffers from a shoulder injury will qualify for Social Security disability. Shoulder injuries come in many different forms, with different limitations, and different prognoses. Whether you will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits because of your shoulder injury will depend on your unique injury.

Common Types of Shoulder Injuries Causing Disabilities

Some common types of shoulder injuries which can prevent you from working and result in disability include:

  • Shoulder separation.
  • Tendinitis.
  • Bursitis.
  • Torn rotator cuff.
  • Frozen shoulder.
  • Shoulder fracture.
  • Arthritis.

In order to properly diagnose such an injury, a doctor typically uses a three-stage approach. First, a full medical history is taken. This history outlines the problems associated with the shoulder. Second, a physical examination is performed in order to assess the physical limitations and pain levels imposed by the shoulder injury. Finally, tests are completed in order to confirm shoulder problems. These tests may include x-rays, x-rays using dye injections, ultrasounds, and MRIs.

How the Social Security Administration Determines Which Shoulder Injuries Deserve Benefits

When making a determination as to whether the injury qualifies as a disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers whether the shoulder injury:

  • Meets the requirements of one of disability listings in the “Blue Book.”
  • Is equivalent to a disability listing in the Blue Book.
  • Prevents the sufferer from returning to work.

Many shoulder pain sufferers qualify for Social Security disability because they have a “major dysfunction of a joint.” In order to qualify pursuant to this Blue Book listing, a claimant must show that he has one of the following conditions:

  • Partial shoulder dislocation.
  • Partial or full fusing of the shoulder joints. This is typically caused by tissue growing between the joints
  • Shoulder instability due to continuous dislocations, shoulder separations, or ongoing shoulder weakness.

The claimant must also show that he suffers from chronic pain and suffers from a limited use of his arms as a result of the injury. Further, the claimant must provide medical evidence of any one of the following:

  • Fusing of the joints.
  • Destruction of the shoulder bones.
  • Narrowing of the space in between the joints.

If you are unable to meet the requirements of this listing, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits by proving that the condition is equal in severity to another Blue Book listing or that you cannot work due to your condition.

For assistance filing a claim for Social Security disability following a shoulder injury, seek guidance from an experienced professional who can help you prepare the strongest possible petition. Please contact us today via this website or by calling 800-800-6353 to schedule your initial consultation with a Social Security disability lawyer.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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