Welcome to part six in our series on musculoskeletal disorders. You can read our previous posts on the subject here. One question that a lot of people have about musculoskeletal disorders is how prosthetics or other assistive devices fit in, so below we’re going to cover what role they play in getting disability benefits. To break it down in a clear way, there will be three sections: one for prosthetic devices, one for orthotic devices, and one for hand-held assistive devices.
Prosthetics. If you have a prosthetic because you’ve lost part of a limb for any reason, the device needs to be in place during the examination. This is because a medical professional needs to be able to determine how well you can get around using the prosthetic, whether it’s used to help you walk (for lower extremities) or manipulate objects (for prosthetic hands). You doctor should remove the prosthetic for part of the examination, but this is only to note the condition of the stump.
Orthotic devices. Just like with a prosthetic, examination of people with orthotic devices should happen when the device is in place. The point is to determine how well you are able to function when using the orthosis. If, however, you have trouble using the device, make sure that your doctor knows this so that they can document this difficulty and look for the underlying medical basis for the issue.
Hand-held devices. What are hand-held assistive devices? Things like crutches, canes, or walkers. For these individuals, the doctor should examine their ability to function with the device as well as how they are able to get along without it – unless this goes against their medical judgment. It’s important for them to note why you need to use the hand-held device and detail how the use of this instrument affects your functional capacity, since it will require the use of one or both of your upper extremities.
What it boils down to is that people with assistive devices of any kind need to make sure that they are working with a doctor who knows the specific requirements for examining them. If you need help, finding a physician with this kind of experience, talk to a disability lawyer for help.
If you have more Social Security questions that you want answered, download a copy of our free ebook on getting Social Security disability.