Blogs – Social Security Disability

Fractures of an Upper Extremity

In some cases, SSA will award disability benefits as a result of an upper extremity non-union (non-healing) fracture such as the humerus radius or ulna.  Most fracture claims of the upper extremity that SSA evaluates are the result of trauma such as a motor vehicle accident.  Upper extremity fractures may also be associated with weakness of bones as a result of disease such as a tumor. SSA has special rules in evaluating this type of impairment.  Essential to winning benefits as a result of a fracture to an upper extremity is ongoing care of a surgeon who his attempting to treat a non-healed fracture.  These types of cases can be difficult to win disability benefits and it is recommended that consideration be given to retaining an attorney who has experience with social security disability cases.

Fractures of the Tibia, Pelvis or One or More of the Tarsal Bones

In some cases, SSA will award disability benefits as a result of a lower extremity non-union (non-healing of the bone) fracture involving such bones as the tibia, pelvis or oneor more of the tarsal bones.  Most non-union lower extremity fracture claims that SSAevaluates are the result of trauma such as a motor vehicle accident.  Lower extremity non-union fractures may also be associated with weakness of bones as a result of disease suchas a tumor. SSA has special rules in evaluating this type of impairment.  Essential towinning benefits as a result of a fracture to a lower extremity is the inability to return tofunctional ambulation and duration.  Cases involving non-union fractures of the lowerextremity  can  be  difficult  to  win  disability  benefits  and  it  is  recommended  thatconsideration be given to retaining an attorney who has experience with social securitydisability cases.

Amputation and Social Security

About 85% of amputations are of the lower extremity and most often necessitated by arterial vascular disease (PVD).  After vascular disease, injury accounts for the greatest number of amputations.  Amputations can also be caused by cancer, infection and congenital limb deformities  The two major lower limb amputations are referred to as below the knee amputations and above the knee amputations.  SSA has specific rules in deciding whether an individual is disabled as a result of an amputation of either the upper extremities or lower extremities. In lower extremity amputations, three things have to be established.  First, the amputation is in the correct location.  Second, duration has to be satisfied.  Third, it must be established that ineffective ambulation exists.  Also, it may be necessary to establish that there is an inability to use a prosthesis.   Amputation cases can be difficult to win disability benefits and it is recommended that consideration

Disorders of the Spine

The spine (vertebral column) consists of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx.   There are many causes of a disorder of the spine including disease, trauma and congenital deformity.  Types of disorders of the spine include but are not limited to the following:  osteoarthritis (OA), degenerative disease, herniated disc (herniated nucleus pulposus), osteoporosis, tumors, arachnoiditis, lumbar strain, Spina Bifida, spondylolisthesis, and stenosis.  SSA has special rules in awarding benefits for this type of impairment.  These types of cases can be difficult to win disability benefits and it is recommended that consideration be given to retaining an attorney who has experience with social security disability cases.

Hip Pain and Social Security Disability

There are many causes of chronic hip pain that may impact an individual’s ability to work. Some causes of chronic hip pain are:  degenerative disease (damage to one or both hips) osteoarthritis, hip fracture, traumatic injury. Because SSA considers a hip a weight bearing joint, obesity may also impact the severity of a hip impairment. Although hip replacement can be an option to treat a hip impairment in some situations, this type ofsurgery is an aggressive form of treatment and doctors generally want to avoid this type of surgery as long as possible. SSA recognizes that an individual may be entitled to social security disability benefits based on a severe hip impairment.  SSA has special rules that SSA uses to evaluate a hip impairment.  For example, if SSA determines that an individual’s hip impairment meets or equals one of the Listing criteria found in Section 1.00 of SSA’s special rules,

Polio and Social Security Disability

Post-polio sequelae refers to the documented residuals of acute polioencephalomyelitis(polio) infection as well as other disorders that have an etiological link to either the acutepolio infection or to chronic deficits resulting from the acute infection. Disorders thatmay manifest late in the lives of polio survivors include post-polio syndrome (also knownas the late effects of poliomyelitis), early advanced degenerative arthritis, sleep disorders,respiratory insufficiency, and a variety of mental disorders. Although claims for disabilitybenefits based on polio are rare, such claims do occur on occasion.  SSA recognizes polioas a severe impairment that may entitle an individual to disability benefits.  For guidancein evaluating a claim based on polio, SSA relies on special rules. Because claims forbenefits based on polio are rare and usually are made later in life, it is recommended thatan individual speak with an attorney or representative that has experience in handlingpolio claims.

Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

SSA relies on special rules in evaluating chronic pain.  SSA’s position is that chronic pain is a symptom and no symptom or combination of symptoms can be the basis for a finding of disability, no matter how genuine the individual’s complaints may appear to be, unless there are medical signs and laboratory findings demonstrating the existence of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that could reasonably be expected to produce the symptoms.  In summary, an individual cannot merely allege chronic pain and hope to receive disability benefits.  Chronic pain is a symptom and there must exist an underlying medically determinable impairment (MDI) based on objective medical findings before an award of benefits can be made. An individual seeking disability benefits based on chronic pain should consult with a representative or attorney who is familiar with SSA’s special rules regarding chronic pain.  

Neck Pain and Social Security Disability 

There are many causes of chronic neck pain that may impact an individual’s ability to work.  Some causes of chronic neck pain are:  degenerative disc disease (damage to one or more vertebral discs), herniated disc (problem with one of the cushions (discs) between the individual vertebras that stack up to make the spinal column), stenosis (narrowing of a root canal), cervical myelopathy, nerve root impingement (one or more of the nerve roots contacting another part of the vertebrae) and failed neck surgery. SSA recognizes that an individual may be entitled to social security disability benefits based on a severe neck impairment.  SSA has special rules that SSA uses to evaluate a neck impairment.  For example, if SSA determines that an individual’s neck impairment meets or equals one of the Listing criteria found in Section 1.00 of SSA’s special rules, SSA should award benefits.  Under some circumstances, an individual’s neck impairment

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Social Security Disability Benefits

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a systemic disorder consisting of complex symptoms that may vary in frequency, duration, and severity.  SSA recognizes that CFS can be a severe condition and has published special rules for guidance in determining whether an individual with CFS is entitled to benefits.  CFS cases in the context of social security disability benefits are difficult but not impossible cases to win.  If an individual files a claim for disability benefits who suffers from CFS, it is recommended that the individual speak with an attorney or representative that has experience in representing CFS cases.

Chronic Migraines and Social Security Disability Benefits

Migraines vary from individual to individual based on intensity, severity, duration, and frequency.  For many, migraines are debilitating and prevent an individual from working full time. SSA may consider migraines under SSA’s list of neurological impairments.  Consistent treatment with a specialist over a prolonged period, objective medical findings establishing the cause of migraines and supporting documentation are crucial in making a viable claim for benefits.  If an individual files a claim for disability benefits who suffers from migraines, it is recommended that the individual speak with an attorney or representative that has experience in representing individuals with migraines.

Fibromyalgia and Social Security Disability Benefits

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a complex medical condition that can cause chronic diffuse joint pain in multiple parts of the body as well as generalized fatigue.  People that suffer from FM may also suffer from a level of depression. SSA recognizes that FM, in some cases, can be a debilitating condition entitling an award of disability benefits.  Given the complexity of FM, SSA has special rules for guidance in evaluating FM claims for disability benefits.  An individual seeking disability benefits on a FM claim should consult with an attorney who has experience in representing individuals with FM.

TIPS IN COMPLETING THE WORK HISTORY REPORT (SSA-3369-BK)

As part of SSA’s disability determination process, SSA will evaluate an individual’s (Claimant) work history to determine whether a Claimant can return to a Claimant’s past work or has skills that are transferrable to other work.  SSA will evaluate the Claimant’s “Past Relevant Work (PRW)” for the last 15 years. In SSA’s assessment of a Claimant’s past work, SSA will require a Claimant to complete a Work History Report (Form SSA 3369-BK).  The Work History Report is very important to the disability determination process and the Claimant should take care and time in completing the form. Tip 1: On page 1 of the Work History Report, the Job Title/Type of Business for each job held should be listed in chronological order with the most recent Job Title/Type of Business first. (Note: some people have had several job titles within the same business.  Each Job Title held by the Claimant needs