Monday, April 30, 2012

Impaired Use of Hands

When applying for disability benefits based on a hand impairment, it is just as important to focus on the difficulty with manipulating objects as it is with lifting and carrying objects.  That is especially true when seeking Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits because of a special ruling which provides that, “Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of both hands and the fingers; i.e., bilateral manual dexterity .... for repetitive hand-finger actions.”

If there is any significant manipulative limitation of an individual's ability to handle and work with small objects with both hands, then it will result in a significant erosion of the unskilled sedentary occupational base.  The significant limitation should result in a finding of disability, or at least require the Social Security Administration to support a denial with vocational testimony.  The stronger the manipulative limitation, the stronger the chance the claim will be approved.

          I represent a 51 year old television technical director with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (“CTS”) and cervical radiculopathy, whose SSD application was approved today without ever being denied.  I had already secured his long term disability benefits.  The treatment records, disability assessments, and diagnostic testing showed that the claimant had severe CTS, which causes paresthesia, pain, numbness, and other symptoms in the distribution of the median nerve, which includes the fingers.  I was able to show that his hand problems were particularly bad because the CTS was compounded by cervical radiculopathy at the C6-C7 level, which causes pain, paresthesia, and numbness to radiate from the neck and from around the shoulder into the outer aspect of the arm and forearm, and along the dorsal aspect of the thumb and into the index and middle fingers.

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