Social Security Disability Benefits for Major Joint Dysfunction
There are essentially two ways to get disability through Social Security: you can work to prove that your health issue prevents you from working at any job you’re qualified for in the country using the SSA’s “Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process”, or you can show that your condition meets or equals one of their Listings of Impairments.
What are the SSA’s Listing of Impairments? It’s the set of standards or medical criteria that the SSA has defined for an individual condition that will automatically qualify someone for disability if they can show that they meet them.
Of the two options, showing that you meet a disability listing is more straightforward but frequently it is a difficult standard to meet because it requires precise objective medical documentation. The SSA requires that anyone trying to qualify for disability benefits be out of work for 12 months (or at least be expected to be without a job for at least that long) regardless of their theory of disability.
Standards and Medical Criteria for Listing 1.02
To meet listing 1.02 – Major Dysfunction of a Joint, the SSA demands claimants to prove one of the following:
- If the issue is in the lower half of your body, the condition must involve “one peripheral weight-bearing joint” (ankle, knee, hip, etc.) and make it difficult for you to walk and get around. It’s called “ineffective ambulation” and typically involves things like needing a walker or other assistive device, struggling to climb stairs, and being unable to walk for a block or more at a reasonable pace.
- If the issue is in the upper half of your body, it has to involve “one peripheral joint in each upper extremity” (wrist, elbow, shoulder, etc.) and limit your ability to engage in gross or fine movements. These people tend to struggle with activities such as handling and sorting paper, performing personal hygiene tasks, and preparing meals.
What does the SSA need to see as objective proof? Positive findings on any of the following are helpful:
- Apley grinding test
- Bone biopsy (needle)
- Bone scan
- Cross-body adduction test
- Drawer sign (anterior and posterior)
- Elbow extension test
- Facial bones (x-ray)
- Kellgren-Lawrence score
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of bone
- McMurray’s Test
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound
- Patrick’s Test (Fabere Test)
- Range of Motion (ROM) tests
- Thomas Test
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
- White Blood Cell scan (WBC)
Keep in mind that it isn’t the end just because you don’t meet a specific disability listing. Many who don’t are still able to prove to the SSA that their issues prevent them from doing any other work using the Five Step Sequential Equalization mentioned earlier.
To learn more about what you can do to have your claim approved and start getting the benefits you need, contact a Social Security disability lawyer today. For even more information on Social Security Disability, download our free e-book and be sure to visit our blog weekly!