Our musculoskeletal system includes our bones, muscles, cartilage and connective tissues. Together, these components support our bodies and allow us to move while protecting our vital organs. Musculoskeletal disorders can be seriously debilitating, often affecting the ability to walk and perform other everyday activities.
The musculoskeletal conditions that qualify for disability benefits are outlined in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “Blue Book.” There, you’ll find listings of the disorders including detailed descriptions of symptoms one must experience to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Given the diversity of the musculoskeletal system, the Blue Book categorizes the disorders into smaller sections.
- Major Dysfunction of Joints
To qualify for disability benefits for a joint disorder, it must include a gross anatomical deformity. The disorder must be accompanied by chronic joint pain and stiffness which limits its motion.
The symptoms must affect a major weight bearing joint, such as your knees, hips, or ankles. Alternatively, disorders that affect the major joints of your upper extremities, including shoulders, elbows, and wrists, may also qualify.
- Disorders or the Spine
Individuals suffering from spinal disorders commonly qualify for disability benefits. These disorders can leave people fully or partially paralyzed. But even less severe disorders of the spine can qualify.
In general, the SSA will approve disability claims for spinal disorders that limit the motion of the spine and result in sensory or reflex loss. Disorders of the spinal cord that cause chronic pain can also qualify for disability benefits.
Individuals whose hands have both been amputated will qualify for disability benefits. Those who’ve lost a lower extremity above the tarsal bone (around the ankle) may also qualify for disability benefits. However, if you are able to effectively ambulate with the help of a prosthetic device, the SSA may not approve your disability claim.
Those who break a bone which prevents them from walking effectively for 12 months or more may qualify for disability benefits. Similarly, fractures to upper extremities that limit function for a year or more may also qualify.
- Soft Tissue Injury
Burns and other soft tissue injuries are also eligible for disability benefits. However, like fractures and amputations, soft tissue injuries must be so severe that they limit major function for a minimum of 12 months.