Can I Work with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Social Security Disability Benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and it significantly impacts your ability to perform your daily tasks as well as renders you unable to work, you may be eligible to for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which provides monthly benefits to disabled workers who meet specific requirements and prove they are unable to work.

Carpal tunnel syndrome results from swelling putting severe pressure on a nerve in the wrist. Your median nerve, which supplies much of the feeling to a hand, is impacted. Repetitive hand and wrist motions are the most frequent causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, so it is most often considered a repetitive stress injury (RSI). Medical conditions such as lupus or arthritis can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome as well. The numbness, tingling, burning, pain, and weakness in the hands can seriously impact your ability to function.

Can I work with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Impacting Your Ability to Work

Because of the nature of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may find yourself unable to grasp items, do fingering tasks, lift or carry things, and suffer such pain and limited mobility that you can’t do simple tasks you would normally take for granted, such as brushing your hair, signing your name, or opening a bottle or jar. Weakness, numbness, and tingling of the hand can keep you from doing tasks such as filing documents, or sorting records.

Because the pain involved with carpal tunnel syndrome is so severe, you may have to wear a splint on the wrist that is affected. Environmental changes, such as changes in your work duties, may be required to help you regain motion of the wrist and alleviate the pain. If you are suffering from an extreme case of the syndrome, you may need to undergo surgery to cut the ligament and prevent it from pushing up against the nerve and causing your pain and discomfort.

Limitations for Specific Jobs

The inability to lift, carry, reach, or grasp can impact your ability to perform work. If you cannot finger or grasp small things you cannot perform duties as a product inspector, bookkeeper or administrative assistant. Your inability to lift or carry things can keep from being employed in a warehouse, shipping department, as a delivery driver, or as a cashier. You may also realize you are unable to do data entry, word processing, or IT duties.

Your wrist and arm pain can make it impossible for you to drive, so you cannot drive a tractor-trailer truck, a trolley, or a bus for public transportation. The problems with your wrist and hand motions can make repairing things impossible, so you may find yourself unable to do duties as a mechanic or in the maintenance department. Construction work, which involves using hand tools and nailing wood together would be impossible at this point. Working as a hair stylist, jailer, or even a healthcare provider is impossible because of your limitations with your hands and wrists.

Filing for Benefits

If you are disabled to work and you are now ready to apply for SSDI benefits, there are several options you have for starting the process. You can go online to the SSA website to start the application process. Another option would be to call the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 to speak with a representative and start your application. You can also go to your nearest SSA office to star the application process by meeting face-to-face with an employee of the SSA. Regardless of how you start the process, providing thorough documentation is the key to supporting and proving your claim.

You will need to provide all your medical records, physician notes, evidence of restrictions and limitations, test results, treatment that you have undergone and the results, and documentation that shows how your carpal tunnel syndrome has negatively impacted your life and affected your ability to work. Because the process is complicated and time consuming, you may choose to have an advocate or an attorney to represent you. The average claim takes five months to gain approval, and you can be denied benefits twice, but you can appeal those decisions. An administrative law hearing is the last step.