The Social Security Administration provides disability benefits to people suffering from a broad range of physical problems, including orthopedic injuries. Orthopedic injures typically affect the bones, muscles and joints. Common examples include back problems, hip injuries, bad knees, degenerative disc disease and arthritis.
If you suffer pain or have orthopedic problems that make it impossible to work, it is essential to find out if you qualify for disability benefits.
An experienced attorney at the Ginarte law firm can help you to determine if your condition may make you eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD). Our attorneys assist with both initial claims and appeals for clients throughout the New York and New Jersey metro area.
- Is my orthopedic injury covered by SSD?
- What do I need to prove to collect SSD benefits for my orthopedic injury?
- How can a lawyer help me get disability benefits?
SSD Benefits for Orthopedic Injuries
SSD benefits are available only if you have a long-term medical condition (one that has lasted a year or that is expected to last a year) and if you cannot work because of your condition.
Since the SSA limits benefits to the severely disabled, there is a list of medical conditions that are considered disabling enough to qualify. If your condition is on the list and you exhibit the required symptoms, you can usually have a claim approved. If you don’t have a listed ailment, you need to prove that your health problems are just as severely disabling as those on the list.
The SSA addresses orthopedic injuries in section 1.00 of the Listing of Impairments, which includes covered disabilities affecting the musculoskeletal system. This section provides coverage for people who have:
- Major dysfunction of joints due to any causes.
- Disorders of the spine.
- Bone fractures.
- Soft tissue injuries.
Most people with orthopedic injuries find that their medical condition falls under the category of “major dysfunction of joints.” A person who qualifies for disability benefits under this category must have a “gross anatomical deformity” such as a “subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, or instability.”
At least one of the affected joints must be either:
- A weight-bearing joint like the ankle, hip or knee joint.
- A major peripheral joint in each of the upper extremities including the shoulder, wrist, hand or elbow.
The damage to the weight-bearing joint must affect the ability to walk effectively. Damage to the upper peripheral joint must make you unable to perform fine and gross movements effectively.
The SSA also requires you to experience chronic joint pain and stiffness to qualify for benefits based on an orthopedic condition. People with a variety of orthopedic injuries may be able to meet these criteria or otherwise qualify for benefits based on a musculoskeletal injury.
This includes individuals suffering from:
- Hip injuries.
- Back injuries.
- Fractures that did not fuse properly.
- Spinal disorders or failed spinal surgery.
- Degenerative disc or joint disease.
- Spinal curvature.
- Disorders or injuries of the leg, knee or ankle.
The key to eligibility for SSD benefits is being able to prove that your condition is long-term and disabling.
Making a Disability Benefits Claim
When you apply for disability benefits based on an orthopedic injury, you may need to provide detailed medical records from an orthopedic surgeon, orthopedist or other expert in this area of medicine. You may be asked to submit to an independent medical exam or fulfill other requirements set forth by the SSA.
Like most SSD applicants, you may have your benefits claim initially denied and need to go through the appeals process. Although the application and appeals process for SSD benefits may seem as though it is geared toward discouraging applicants, do not give up even if your initial application was rejected.