What you need to know about Social Security Disability and Your Hand Injury/Hand Pain
The Social Security Administration must consider all of your physical and mental limitations when determining whether you can work. Hand limitations are often overlooked by the Social Security Administration when evaluating a claim. Hand limitations affect an applicant's ability to perform very physically demanding work, but sometimes cause more problems with desk-type jobs. That is why it is important to mention hand injuries, hand pain and any hand limitations you have when you apply for benefits.
How is your hand injury limiting your quality of life?
The SSA should take into consideration limitations, such as the effect of chronic pain, fatigue, side-effects of medication and frequency of medical treatment.
Chronic pain can cause you to be unable to focus sufficiently on job tasks. Negative side effects of many pain medicines exacerbate the problem. Chronic pain and pain medication can make a worker unproductive and unable to complete tasks.
Fatigue can arise from stress related to constant pain, but could also be related to an autoimmune condition that is the source of the hand symptoms. This could cause someone to need additional breaks that are not typically allowed by employers.
Frequent medical appointments, tests and procedures can cause problems with regular job attendance, requiring more absences than allowed by employers.
Social Security Disability And a Loss of Hand Injury / Hand Pain
A hand injury can affect your ability to lift, reach, push, pull, carry, grip, handle and feel, to name a few. The SSA will evaluate the applicant's medical records to look for evidence of such limitations and decide if the limitations are temporary or long term and if there is expected improvement with medical treatment or prosthetics (in the case of amputation). This evaluation would attempt to answer some of the following:
Can you reach with your arms and hands in any direction and how long could you do that each workday?
Can you push with your arms and hands and how long could you do that each workday?
How much can you lift and carry and how long could you do this each workday?
Can you hold or grip with your hands and how much and for how long could you do this each workday?
Can you pinch or pick up small items and how long could you do this each workday?
Types of Hand Injuries for SSDI
The most common injury is a break. These are easier to recover from usually, but some breaks cause permanent limitations related to nerve damage which can lead to a loss of feeling or strength.
Burn injuries to hands are extremely painful. If severe enough, such injures may require skin grafts that can cause decreased hand function due to tightness of the grafted skin.
Amputation of fingers or part of a hand will decrease overall strength, dexterity and use of the hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by compression on nerves that travel through the wrist. This is typically caused by repetitive motion and causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and forearm.
Arthritis in the hands and fingers can be caused by long-term repetitive movements or may be related to an underlying condition like rheumatoid arthritis. Regardless of the cause, pain, swelling and limited movement are common symptoms.
Neck injuries can cause damage to the spinal cord and nerves that affect the use of arms and hands. Nerve damage can affect the strength, feeling and use of the hands. Many persons with neck injuries complain of pain, numbness and weakness in their arms and hands even after surgery.
What information do you need for a good Social Security Disability claim?
Medical treatment records are a must as SSA will not consider a problem that is not documented in the medical records. Your medical records should have medical tests (like x-rays, MRI, or CT scan) as these can help show the cause of your hand symptoms and limitations.
SSA will have several forms to be completed after filing a claim: 1) Function Report and 2) Work History Report. These forms are necessary for SSA to evaluate how your conditions affect your ability to do the work you have done in the past, as well as other types of work. Failure to thoroughly complete and return these forms will likely delay or negatively impact your claim
You should consult with an experienced SSDI lawyer as soon as you have thoughts of applying for SSDI so you can receive an evaluation of your specific situation and disability. It will be time well spent and at Phillip Hendry Law, there is no charge for the consultation.