Claiming SSD for joint, bone and muscle conditions

Musculoskeletal system disorders are conditions that affect the bones, joints and muscles. People who suffer from these disorders in Illinois may experience anything from mild pain and stiffness to significant physical limitations. These disorders can be highly debilitating, as any Chicago Social Security attorney understands. Fortunately, victims may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration recognizes the disabling nature of many musculoskeletal system disorders. The first chapter in the SSA’s “Blue Book” of disabling impairments is devoted entirely to these disorders. Additionally, many musculoskeletal disorders that are not explicitly included in the Blue Book may still qualify as disabling.

Recognized disorders

Numerous categories of musculoskeletal system disorders are listed in the Blue Book. These include the following injuries, diseases and disorders:

  • Amputations
  • Spinal disorders
  • Joint dysfunction
  • Soft tissue injury due to burns
  • Fractures of the legs, feet or upper extremities

Additionally, the Blue Book recognizes the possibility of disablement resulting indirectly from musculoskeletal system disorders. For instance, reconstructive surgery of a weight-bearing joint that causes a limited ability to walk is listed in the book.

People who suffer from listed musculoskeletal disorders may qualify for SSD benefits by meeting requirements described in the appropriate listing. For example, a joint disorder must limit a person’s ability to walk or perform fine motor tasks. Additionally, the disorder must be medically documented, and it must cause pain, stiffness and limited motion. If these criteria are met, a joint disorder is automatically considered disabling.

Other musculoskeletal system disorders that don’t appear in the Blue Book may also qualify as disabling. The victims of these disorders may receive medical-vocational allowances if they cannot perform gainful work. As any Chicago Social Security attorney knows, the SSA may use various factors to determine whether a person can work gainfully. These include the person’s physical limitations, age, job skills and relevant knowledge.

Documenting musculoskeletal disorders

People claiming SSD benefits for musculoskeletal system disorders must provide a diagnosis from an acceptable medical source. Licensed physicians and podiatrists both qualify as acceptable sources. SSD applicants also should furnish objective evidence of the disorder, such as medical imaging or tests. Applicants may supplement this evidence with descriptions of the physical limitations the disorder causes.

For people seeking SSD benefits, establishing the expected duration of musculoskeletal system disorders is critical. As any Chicago Social Security attorney knows, a condition must be terminal or expected to last over 12 months to qualify for benefits. Some musculoskeletal disorders, such as fractures and spine injuries, may heal or improve within this time period. However, medical treatment records and statements from doctors can help applicants prove a disorder is anticipated to last longer.