Until you got sick or hurt, you may not have given your bones and joints a whole lot of thought. However, now that you are in pain or have limited motion, you may give little thought to anything other than the bones or joints that are causing your disability.
The Social Security Administration recognizes that musculoskeletal disorders can result in significant disabilities. If you suffer from such a condition it is important to know whether you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits and what you can do to protect the disability benefits you deserve.
Specific Musculoskeletal Disorders Included in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments
The Social Security Administration has a guide known as the Blue Book Listing of Impairments. This guide lists many specific conditions and provides details about when a person who has such a condition may be eligible for Social Security disability.
Musculoskeletal disorders are included in the first section of the Listing of Impairments. This section makes clear that the cause of your condition is not as significant as the impact of the condition on your life. The specific musculoskeletal disorders included in the Listing of Impairments include:
- Major Dysfunction of a Joint (Section 1.02). The cause of your joint dysfunction is not relevant to whether you are disabled. Instead, you will be considered disabled if you have a gross anatomic deformity and chronic joint pain and stiffness with signs of limitation of motion or other abnormal motion of the affected joints and medical tests show joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis of the affected joints. Additionally, at least one major peripheral weight-bearing joint that impacts your ability to walk effectively or one major peripheral joint in each upper extremity that impacts your fine or gross motor movements must be impacted.
- Reconstructive Surgery or Surgical Arthrodesis of a Major Weight–Bearing Joint (Section 1.03). If either one of these surgeries has impacted your ability to walk effectively and your ability to walk effectively does not happen or is not expected to happen within 12 months, you may be eligible for benefits.
- Disorders of the Spine (Section 1.04). A disorder of the spine that results in a compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord with evidence of nerve root compression or spinal arachnoiditis or lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication could make you eligible for disability benefits.
- Amputation (Section 1.05). You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you have had both hands amputated, if you have one or both lower extremities amputated at or above the tarsal region with stump complications, if you’ve had one hand and one lower extremity at or above the tarsal region amputated and you can’t walk effectively, or if you have a hemipelvectomy or hip disarticulation.
- Fracture of the Femur, Tibia, Pelvis, or a Tarsal Bone (Section 1.06). If you suffer from one of these fractures with solid union not evident and the inability to walk effectively for at least 12 months, you may be able to recover disability benefits.
- Facture of an Upper Extremity (Seciton 1.07). If you suffer a fracture in an upper extremity with nonunion of a fracture of the shaft of the humerus, radius, or ulna under continuing surgical management directed toward restoration of function in the extremity and function is not restored or expected to be restored for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for benefits.
- Soft Tissue Injury – Such as Burns (Section 1.08). If you suffer a soft tissue injury in an extremity, trunk, face or head that is under continuing surgical management directed toward salvaging or restoring function and major function is not restored or expected to be restored within 12 months, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
If you have any one of these conditions, it is important to protect your rights by filing a complete and accurate application for benefits with the Social SecurityAdministration.
Don’t Take Your Eligibility for Granted
You may read one of the descriptions above and be very confident that you qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, the majority of Social Security disability benefit applications are denied. Often, these denials occur because of a mistake on the application and not because the applicant is truly ineligible for benefits.
You can help prevent this type of error in your own application by working with a board certified Social Security disability lawyer before you file your initial application for benefits. To learn more about your rights and about how to protect them please download a free copy of our book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, and call us directly to schedule a confidential consultation.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.