Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, also known as complex regional pain syndrome, can limit your ability to work because of chronic pain, muscle spasms, skin sensitivity, intense sensations, and even atrophy and contractures. If you are unable to work for a living because of your symptoms, you may qualify to draw disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Getting Social Security Disability (SSD) for reflex sympathetic dystrophy in Pittsburgh sometimes requires a complex process of documenting your condition and its effects, applying for disability, and working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ensure they have all the information they need to approve your claim.
The disability attorneys at Berger and Green can help you navigate this process. If the SSA denied a previous application, we can even handle your appeal. Call us today at 412-661-1400 for a complimentary consultation.
How Does the SSA Determine If I Am Medically Eligible for Disability Benefits Based on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?
The SSA maintains a list of the medical criteria necessary to qualify for disability benefits based on a variety of medical conditions. There is no impairment listing that outlines the criteria for getting benefits based on a reflex sympathetic dystrophy diagnosis. However, the organization published a bulletin about how to evaluate this condition in early 2017.
This bulletin helps us—and the disability examiner handling your claim—understand how your illness and its effects may qualify you for benefits. While it is often difficult to obtain approval based on any chronic pain disorder, this bulletin offers a roadmap for us to follow to help you and others suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
The first step is ensuring your medical records show you suffer from a medically determinable impairment. This means you need a diagnosis from a well-qualified physician, as well as evidence to support this diagnosis. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy causes some physical symptoms, as well as chronic pain. Your medical records may show:
- Different texture, temperature, or coloring of your skin;
- Issues with hair or nail growth in the affected area;
- Affected sweat glands;
- Bone loss; or
- Atrophy or contractures.
How Will the SSA Determine My Ability to Work?
If your medical records confirm you have a medically determinable impairment, the disability examiner will then consider your residual functional capacity (RFC) to see if your impairment prevents you from working. The RFC is a statement of your abilities based on what the examiner finds when investigating your claim.
They may consider:
- The limitations you list on your application;
- The opinions of family members, neighbors, friends, and co-workers who have seen your limitations;
- An RFC form from your doctor; and
- In some cases, a consultative examinationwith an independent physician.
When possible, they try to compare your abilities before and after your diagnosis through your medical records. They also may give more credence to a specialist or a doctor who is very familiar with reflex sympathetic dystrophy than a general practitioner. For this reason, you should be under the care of a practitioner who can help you document your condition and impairments.
Your RFC tells the SSA the type of work you can do, how long you can work, and how frequently. If they determine you cannot work your previous job, any other job you have the training to do, or a job that requires only general skills, you will likely qualify for SSD benefits.
What Type of Evidence Will the Disability Examiner Look for in My Medical Records?
When applying for SSD based on reflex sympathetic dystrophy, having longitudinal records of your abilities and treatment are key. These records should go back at least a year, when possible. They should include documentation of how the doctor reached your diagnosis, including any laboratory tests and imaging scans performed.
If your diagnosis came after an injury to the affected area, the claims examiner will seek medical records related to the original injury if available. They also look for any documentation of lost abilities, physical symptoms, or limitations related to your reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The better documented your symptoms and impairments are, the better evidence the disability examiner will find to support your claim for disability benefits.
Are There Other Qualifications I Must Meet to Qualify for SSD Benefits?
Getting SSD benefits requires not only meeting the medical qualifications, but also meeting other specific criteria. SSDI and SSI have different rules, so you may qualify for one program and not the other. Some people with extremely low income may qualify for both programs.
To get approval for SSDI, you must show:
- Your condition began over a year ago, or is expected to last more than a year;
- You earn less than the substantial gainful activity(SGA) limit of $1,170 for 2017 based on work you are able to do; and
- You have enough work creditsto qualify for benefits from your previous work.
To qualify for SSI, you must show:
- Your income is below $735 for an individual or $1,103 per couple each month; and
- You have less than $2,000 in qualifying assets for an individual or less than $3,000 for a couple, not including your home, vehicle, or work resources.
We can help you understand which programs you may qualify for and help you file your applications for those benefits. We can also identify other government benefits you can apply for, especially if you meet the income requirement to draw SSI.
Talk to the Attorneys at Berger and Green About Your Disability Claim Today.
The lawyers at Berger and Green can help you understand which disability benefits you qualify for and help you file your application for those programs. If you already applied and received a denial, we can also guide you through the appeals process. We can build a strong case for approval and represent you in front of the Administrative Law Judge who determines if your claim receives approval.
Call us today at 412-661-1400 or contact us online to schedule a free review with one of our Pittsburgh disability attorneys.