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Defining musculoskeletal injuries

Many in Scranton may view the definition of disabled as being open to interpretation. For example, what you believe to be debilitating, others may view as being manageable. For this reason, many of those who come to us here at Steppacher Law questioning whether or not they may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits are surprised to learn that the Social Security Administration has very strict criteria for determining whether or not you truly are disabled. Understanding these criteria may certainly influence your actions and decisions in managing your condition going forward. 

The SSA has a detailed list of conditions it maintains to determine disability. This list covers many different types of both illnesses and injuries. Among the more common types of disabling conditions is musculoskeletal injuries. If you are suffering from the effects of such an injury, then the SSA states that in order to qualify for disability benefits, your injury must impair your ability to ambulate effectively on a sustained basis or inhibit you from performing fine and gross movements for a period of at least 12 months. This does necessarily mean you have to have been suffering these impairments for a year in order to qualify; confirmation from a medical professional forecasting such difficulties for at least a year may be sufficient. 

An inability to ambulate effectively includes: 

  • Not being able to walk without a walker, crutches or a cane
  • Not being able to walk at a reasonable pace or on uneven surfaces
  • Not being able to ascend steps at a reasonable pace (even when using a handrail)

Similarly, “fine and gross movements” are those associated with preparing meals, tasks related to personal hygiene, and sorting papers or files. 

More information on the technical definitions of disability can be found throughout our site.