Am I eligible for Social Security benefits if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

Yes, but it’s difficult to receive benefits for this condition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t often approve initial disability Warning Box on a Computer Screen Warning of Carpal Tunnel Syndromeapplications for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)—a condition that occurs when the primary nerve that runs from the forearm to the palm (also known as the median nerve) is pinched or squeezed at the wrist. And although CTS can be painful and sometimes debilitating, the SSA requires that your symptoms match or “equal” the criteria for an impairment listing cited in the SSA’s “blue book.” Or, due to your limitations, you must be unable to work any job.

Reasons Why it May Be Difficult to Obtain Social Security Disability for CTS

Claims examiners for the SSA don’t usually find that CTS symptoms meet the standards for disability. Here are some reasons why you may find it a challenge to receive benefits for this condition:

  • You must match the criteria for another condition. Because there is no specific listing for CTS in the SSA’s blue book, you must look for an associated condition that may cause your CTS symptoms. Your symptoms must then meet the criteria listed for that other condition. You may be able to show that your symptoms are a result of diabetes, lupus, or arthritis. If you have nerve damage, your condition could also be considered peripheral neuropathy. But it’s very difficult to meet the requirements of this specific condition.
  • You must provide medical evidence. Diagnosing CTS is difficult and involves three components: You must show you have classic symptoms of CTS, there are specific physical findings required, and you must have abnormal electrodiagnostic test results. Additionally, an MRI isn’t generally considered by the SSA when making a CTS diagnosis.
  • You must show your limitations make it impossible to work. You’ll need to prove that your CTS symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your ability to work. This will involve that you undergo tests that show a decrease in hand, finger, and grip strength, along with dexterity testing. And the SSA won’t award benefits just because you receive a CTS diagnosis. An approval or a denial is based on how the condition causes functional limitations. 
If you’ve been diagnosed with CTS, learn how the SSA determines eligibility for disability benefits by contacting us at 402-933-5405. We will discuss your case and whether you’re able to get the help you need.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska