The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) seems to be giving greater emphasis recently to that part of Ruling 96-8p, which concerns the use of hands. That Ruling states in relevant part, “Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of both hands and the fingers; i.e., bilateral manual dexterity;” and “Any significant manipulative limitation of an individual's ability to handle and work with small objects with both hands will result in a significant erosion of the unskilled sedentary occupational base.”
Lately, I noticed that vocational experts (“VE”) at hearings have been testifying that claimants who lack bilateral manual dexterity are precluded from performing full time gainful activity. Today, I learned that the SSA approved disability benefits for one of my clients, who is a 55 year old former administrative assistant with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and cervical radiculopathy just a couple of months after the application was filed.
The relatively rapid approval seems consistent with the recent VE testimony concerning bilateral manual dexterity. Applicants should take care to obtain reports that detail the functional limitations and restrictions in the use of their hands.