Am I Disabled from Double Crush Syndrome?
Double crush syndrome is a condition wherein the peripheral nerve is compressed at two different locations, often called compressive neuropathy. This is not to be confused with peripheral neuropathy where the nerves are damaged, not compressed. For example, an individual suffering from cervical radiculopathy along with cubital tunnel syndrome will be said to suffer from double crush syndrome. Double crush syndrome is a relatively new terminology for two compression sites.
Nerve compression typically causes radiating pain, numbness or weakness in the area that the nerve controls. Double crush syndrome is best diagnosed and treated through an orthopedic specialist and/or a neurologist. If the cervical spine, arm and wrist are involved, the individual will likely treat with a spine specialist along with a hand specialist. The hand specialist will likely treat the arm, wrist numbness first as those will be less invasive procedures, and generally the least expensive to treat. If treatment of the hand/wrist does not resolve the symptoms in those locations then the neck specialist will treat for cervical radiculopathy, which may range from pain management to surgical intervention.
Suffering from double crush syndrome most often causes serious symptoms of pain and weakness for individuals. If you are suffering from double crush syndrome, with two areas of pain, weakness or numbness in your body, you likely are having some type of difficulty working. If that is the case, you should consider applying for social security disability benefits. Social security disability is a federally mandated insurance program to assist individuals who are unable to work due to medical conditions. Your diagnosis of double crush syndrome may or may not be a life long impairment. Oftentimes, with the right treatment, symptoms of double crush will resolve. During that time period of treatment, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The purpose of the disability program is to provide monthly monetary benefits for individuals while they are focusing on resolving their health issues which are causing them an inability to work. One thing to keep in mind, is that your conditions must be disabling for a minimum of 12 months for you to qualify for the program. In addition to the 12-month requirement, there is a five-step evaluation process social security uses to determine if your conditions are disabling.
When applying for social security disability benefits based on a double crush diagnosis, social security will first check to see if you are working. If you are working, and earning more than $1,200 per month in gross, you are not eligible to apply for social security disability benefits. The disability program allows for minimal earnings while potentially qualifying for disability benefits. This is because when attempting to obtain social security disability benefits you must show you are unable to perform work on a full-time basis. Meaning, if you are only capable of performing part-time work due to your conditions you may still be found disabled. Social security determines if work is part-time not based upon the hours you perform but on your earned working income. The amount deemed to represent part-time work is called substantial gainful activity or SGA. SGA is a monthly monetary amount that changes every year. In 2020, SGA is $1,260 in gross. If your condition prevents you from earning SGA then you will proceed to the second step in the evaluation process.
At step 2, social security determines whether you suffer from a severe medically determinable impairment. The threshold for this is generally low. Your condition(s) must pose more than a minimal impact upon your ability to work. As long as you are suffering from a condition which causes you some sort of symptoms and limitations you will generally be found to suffer from a severe impairment. A good example of this can be hypertension. Say you suffer from high blood pressure, for which you are prescribed medications. When you are taking your medications your blood pressure is controlled and you exhibit no symptoms. Because your condition is controlled with medications this will not be classified as a severe impairment. On the other hand, if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis with symptoms of severe pain, swelling and weakness you will likely be treated with medications. If your medications or treatment do not control those symptoms the rheumatoid arthritis will be considered a severe impairment. The main take away from step two is that simply being diagnosed with a condition is not enough. You must exhibit symptoms and limitations resulting from the diagnosis for the condition to be considered a severe impairment.
If you are determined to suffer from a severe impairment, social security will then consider whether your condition meets or equals a listing. At step 3 social security has determined certain conditions automatically qualify you for disability benefits. These listings can be found in the Blue Book on the social security administrations website. Because double crush syndrome involves two areas of nerve compression, there is not a specific disability listing. However, depending upon where you are experiencing the nerve compression you may be able to combine certain listings to find that you equal a listing. For example, if you suffer form cervical radiculopathy you may qualify under Listing 1.04(a). Your cubital tunnel syndrome may qualify you under listing 1.02. While either condition does not exactly meet the specific listing, when taking both conditions and listings into consideration the combination may equal a listing.
If you are not found to meet or equal a listing, social security will then determine what you are functionally capable of doing. The purpose of determining your functional capacity, is to determine whether you are physically/and or mentally capable of performing your past relevant work and if not if there is other work available in the national economy based upon your functional capacity. If your residual functional capacity is determined to be work preclusive, you will then be found disabled.
Applying for disability benefits is not an easy task. The best thing you can do is to realize you are suffering from a medical condition that affects your ability to work and then reaching out for help from an experienced disability attorney. At the LaBovick Law Group, we provide free consultations to determine whether the disability program is right for you. Call us today at (561) 625-8400 and we will evaluate if your double crush syndrome qualifies you for disability benefits.