If you have debilitating joint pain, you may be qualified to receive Michigan Social Security disability benefits. Common impairments that give rise to joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and trauma to the joint. Regardless of the source of your joint pain, in order to obtain Michigan Social Security disability benefits you must demonstrate that your impairment either (1) meets or medically equals a Listing impairment, or (2) limits your ability to function to such an extent that you are unable to work.
Joint pain is covered under the Listing for “major dysfunction of a joint.” Your impairment meets or medically equals this Listing if you have:
- Major dysfunction of a joint due to any cause;
- Characterized by gross anatomical deformity; and
- Chronic joint pain and stiffness; with
- Signs of limitation of motion or other abnormal motion of the affected joint; and
- Medically acceptable findings demonstrating joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis (immobilization) of the affected joint.
If your impairment involves an upper-extremity joint (wrist-hand, elbow, shoulder), then major dysfunction is evidenced by an inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively. Thus, for example, if you are not able to sort and handle papers or files; or to place files in a cabinet at or above waist-level; or to feed yourself or take care of your hygiene, then you have major dysfunction of the affected joint. If your impairment involves a lower-extremity joint (ankle, knee, hip), major dysfunction is evidenced by an “inability to ambulate (walk) effectively.” You are unable to “ambulate effectively” if, for example, you are unable to walk without the use of an assistive device that requires two hands (e.g., a walker, two crutches, two canes). Likewise, if you cannot walk a block over uneven or rough terrain, at a reasonable pace, then you cannot walk “effectively.”
It is often difficult to meet the Listing requirements; however, you still may qualify to receive Michigan Social Security disability benefits based on your “residual functional capacity” – that is, your ability to work despite your impairment. In making this determination, the Social Security decision-maker will rely heavily on your testimony at your disability hearing. If you are a credible witness, and you provide detailed examples of how your joint pain restricts your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, you may be successful in persuading the judge to award you benefits.
To learn more about how the Social Security Administration evaluates joint pain, read Applying for Disability Benefits When You Have Arthritis and Joint Damage. To discuss the facts of your case with an experienced Michigan disability attorney, please contact me by phone or email.