Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome may be unable to work because of their condition and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their carpal tunnel syndrome may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify under the conditions of that plan.
Are You Unable to Work Due to Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel is a painful condition that can severely limit a person’s use of their wrists and hands. It occurs when a major nerve to the hand, the Median Nerve, becomes trapped or compressed by a part of the wrist that is called the carpal tunnel.
A person suffering with carpal tunnel may experience extreme pain, swelling, numbness, or tingling that affects the hands and the wrists. Carpal tunnel is a condition that tends to get worse over time, and it can lead to permanent nerve damage and worsening of symptoms if left untreated. In some cases, surgery may be required.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel?
There are a number of factors that can increase one’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Constant and Repetitive Use of the Wrist: Working in a profession that requires constant typing or repetitive use of the wrist, like working as a hairstylist, nail tech, or a machinist, is a major factor that can contribute to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Existence of Other Medical Conditions: Patients who suffer from hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes are at a greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Pregnancy: Developing carpal tunnel during pregnancy is a common experience, as fluid tends to build up in the tissues of the wrist. A person who develops carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy will likely experience a reemergence of the condition with each additional pregnancy thereafter.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Burning, tingling or numbness in the palm of the hand, or in the fingers;
- Tingling and numbness that can run all the way up to the shoulders;
- A feeling that the hands and wrists are constantly “asleep;”
- Loss of grip as the muscles begin to shrink;
- Muscle cramping and spasms;
- Loss of coordination, including the loss of the use of the thumb and first finger to create a pinching motion; and
- Permanent muscle damage and loss of feeling from delaying treatment.
Is Carpal Tunnel Affecting Your Ability to Work?
Again, carpal tunnel is a condition that can range in severity from person to person. While one patient with carpal tunnel may experience intermittent pain that comes and goes or is relieved by rest, others may experience complete and total disability.
In order to qualify for long term disability insurance, a person must prove the latter; that is, that they are unable to perform any meaningful employment because of their condition.
For example, if your job requires significant typing or continuous movement of the hands, it may be impossible for you to work due to pain, numbness, or weakness. Your insurance company will also examine if the condition affects one hand, or both, including whether the hand affected is your dominant hand. Patients who experience carpal tunnel in a non-dominant hand may have a harder time proving the disabling nature of their condition. In such cases, help from an experienced long term disability attorney can make all the difference when filing your claim.
Likewise, some long term disability policies will only approve benefits on a short-term basis for carpal tunnel. Again, an experienced national disability attorney can help you review your policy to understand the parameters of the benefits you may be entitled to if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Proving Disability With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Again, proving disability when living with carpal tunnel syndrome can be tricky. Your insurance company will likely need to see clinical records outlining your limitations, in addition to abnormal electromyogram (“EMG”) results, which measure electrical activity in the muscles in response to nerve stimulation. A nerve conduction study may also be useful in proving nerve damage as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome.
The insurance company will also look to see that you’ve pursued all available treatments that may be helpful in relieving your condition such as:
- Wearing a splint;
- Using anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids;
- Use of corticosteroid injections to relieve pain; and
- Carpal Tunnel release surgery.
If it is determined that you have followed your doctor’s instructions, you’ve pursued all “reasonable” medical treatments, but you are still unable to perform your job or hold any other position in the workplace, you will likely be entitled to long term disability benefits.
Continuous Proof of Disability May Be Necessary
With proper treatment, some cases of carpal tunnel can actually improve over time. Such is the case when a person undergoes a successful surgical intervention. Because of this ability to get better with carpal tunnel, your insurance company may require continuous proof of ongoing disability. Again, your national disability attorney will help you navigate any periodic reviews of your claim to ensure that you continue to receive the benefits you need and deserve.
Work with an Experienced Long-Term Disability Insurance Attorney to Ensure You Get the Benefits You Deserve
Your best chance of having a long term disability case approved because of carpal tunnel syndrome comes by working with an experienced LTD Disability lawyer.
Your long term disability attorney will be familiar with how your insurance provider handles carpal tunnel claims and will help you prepare your application and collect essential evidence. It’s important to note that your long term disability attorney does not get paid until you do, so you can proceed with your case without fear of upfront legal bills or costs.
If your LTD claim was wrongfully denied or terminated and you’d like to speak to an experienced long term disability insurance attorney about your disability relating to carpal tunnel and how it may be impacting your ability to work, contact us at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a consultation. We can help you evaluate your claim to determine if you will be able to access long term disability benefits and how to move forward with the process.