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Shoulder Injuries and Boston SSDI Claims: Part II

In this second of our two-part series on the common sources of shoulder pain and how they might impact your federal disability benefits claim, our Boston SSDI lawyers are looking at:

  • Rotator Cuff Damage;
  • Bursitis;
  • Dislocated Shoulder;
  • Frozen Shoulder.

This information offers a general idea of how claims involving these conditions may play out, but keep in mind that each case is fundamentally different. A decision about whether to file should only be made after careful consideration and review by an experienced disability attorney in New England.
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That said, let’s start with rotator cuff damage. This is when the group of muscles and tendons that connect the arm to the shoulder are inflammed, bruised or strained. Usually, this is caused by performing some type of overhead activity or reaching behind your back. It’s a wear-and-tear type of injury, with about half of all 50-year-olds showing some kind of damage to their rotator cuff. Those who worked in construction, carpentry or athletics often have higher rates of injury.

Typically, the effects are minor and can be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers, rest and sometimes physical therapy. Severe rotator cuff injuries may cause persistent pain and weakness in the shoulder.

There is no SSDI listing for rotator cuff injuries. Generally speaking, someone who is suffering from a rotator cuff injury probably won’t qualify for benefits, unless it is accompanied by some other condition that compounds it. SSDI Listing 1.02, which describes major dysfunction of a joint,
could apply if you can prove a total inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively.

The next kind of potential qualifying shoulder injury is bursitis. This is an inflammation of the bursa, or sacs of fluid that help to cushion the muscles, tendons and bones in a joint. These sacs serve to absorb shock and friction during movement. It’s usually recognized with a dull ache that worsens with certain types of movement, but infection – usually stemming from surgery – can amplify the pain. It’s one of the most common causes of shoulder pain, and if untreated, could cause a tear in the rotator cuff.

There is no specific listing for bursitis. However, if the condition is severe enough, you might be able to qualify for benefits under SSDI Listing 1.02. You would have to show joint dislocation or ankylosis and a significant limitation of movements in your arms.

Another common source of shoulder pain is a dislocated shoulder. Usually, this is caused from some type of trauma, such as a severe car accident or a fall. It’s also common for athletes. It’s usually fairly simple for doctors to move the arm back into the shoulder socket. While a person might be out of commission for a few weeks, with his or her arm in a sling, it probably won’t render you disabled long-term. The exception might be if you continue to suffer repeated dislocations, which tends to be more common with younger patients than with older patients.

Finally, the last most common source of shoulder pain is frozen shoulder. The clinical term is adhesive capsulitis. It is diagnosed when the connective tissue that lines the shoulder joint thickens and becomes inflamed. There are three stages of the condition, each with varying levels of pain, stiffness and movement ability. It tends to be more common in women older than 50 and those who suffer from thyroid diseases or diabetes, but the exact cause is unknown.

Doctors say that usually, it takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months to work through all the stages of the condition. SSDI requires that your condition last at least one year in order to qualify.

Sometimes physical therapy helps with frozen shoulder, but it is possible you may be rendered unable to work during that entire time. Consulting with an SSDI attorney early on following your diagnosis will help you determine what steps you need to take while the condition is ongoing.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Ouch! 5 Common Causes of Shoulder Pain, May 30, 2013, By Jodi Helmer, AARP
More Blog Entries:
Massachusetts Disability Lawyers Mark National Safety Month, June 13, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog