Millions of Americans suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), with hundreds of thousands of new cases developing each year. Unfortunately, many who suffer lose their ability to work, sometimes for months at a time.
When symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome escalate to the point of preventing everyday tasks, it can be hard to know what to do next. Filing for disability claims can be frustrating for those who have no experience in the legal world. This makes hiring an experienced disability attorney early in the process important to the success of your disability claim.
At Bryant Legal Group, we know the strain that carpal tunnel syndrome can have on those who suffer from it. That is why we approach your disability claim with care and provide you with the tools you need to avoid pitfalls, communicate with the insurance company on your behalf, and fight against unfair claim denials. In this article, we will cover the basics of carpal tunnel syndrome, when you may qualify for short-term disability benefits, and when those short-term benefits may change to long-term disability benefits.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Medial Neuropathy
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs through the narrow passageway on the palm side of the wrist known as the carpal tunnel. Because the median nerve is responsible for both sensory and motor functions in the hand, pinching or pressure at the carpal tunnel can lead to a variety of moderate to severe symptoms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is very common and is typically treatable, but can become permanent if you wait too long to seek medical treatment.
Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Before performing tests to collect objective evidence of your carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis, you will need to confirm your symptoms with your doctor. Many of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome overlap with other medical conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Frequent numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, especially the thumb and index finger
- Feeling of swelling in fingers without visible swelling
- The need to “shake out” your hand
- Hand weakness
- Muscle damage at the base of the thumb
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome typically start gradually and eventually become more severe over time, starting with the dominant hand. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.
Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A variety of factors can lead to developing carpal tunnel syndrome, including repetitive or strenuous hand motions, underlying medical conditions, or even the anatomy of your wrist. There may not be one single cause, but several contributing causes.
Some of the most common causes and risk factors include:
- Repetitive motions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid disorders
- Strong continuous gripping
- Stress on the palm
- Vibration in the wrist
- A narrow carpal tunnel (due to heredity or injury)
To confirm your carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis, your doctor will need to perform a series of tests for your medical records. These tests can include a physical examination, nerve conduction study, ultrasound, or electromyography (EMG) test.
Typical Recovery Time Post-Operation
If your doctor recommends carpal tunnel release surgery, your short-term benefits may cover your recovery depending on your waiting period and the time you are unable to work. Short-term disability does not cover all surgeries, so you will have to check your disability policy to see if carpal tunnel syndrome is a qualifying medical condition, or if they cover emergency surgeries.
The typical recovery period after carpal tunnel surgery is 1-3 months, so you will likely qualify to receive disability benefits to cover a portion of this time, minus your required waiting period.
Am I Eligible for Short-Term Disability Benefits If I Develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
To be eligible for short-term disability benefits, you will require an official diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome that is supported by objective medical evidence. Your impairment must also be severe enough to prevent you from performing the basic duties of your job, and your residual functional capacity—or the amount of work you can perform despite your disability—must be small enough to prevent you from performing any basic tasks associated with your career.
These benefits will cover you for a period of six months or less. Once you file a claim, you will need to provide proof of continued care, medical expenses, and a loss of ability to work to consistently collect from your insurance company.
Disability claims can be complex and are often closely scrutinized by your insurance company. This makes it important to be as careful as possible and collect all the necessary evidence for your claim. Hiring an experienced disability attorney can help you to understand and analyze what evidence will strengthen your case, as well as avoid any potentially damaging mistakes while filing your disability insurance claim or receiving your benefits.
Long-Term vs Short-Term Disability Benefits for CTS
Although many who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome may qualify for short-term disability insurance, those whose symptoms persist much longer than average may also qualify for long-term disability benefits (LTD). For those who have debilitating symptoms for more than six months, LTD benefits can provide 50 to 60 percent of your income for anywhere from 24 months to retirement age. The length of your long-term disability benefits depends on how long you can demonstrate that your carpal tunnel syndrome prevents you from working.
If you are considering filing a long-term disability claim, call an experienced disability lawyer for help to avoid any potential pitfalls that could lead to denial.
Bryant Legal Group: Premier Disability Attorneys Serving Chicago, Illinois
When carpal tunnel syndrome prevents you from working, you can’t afford to risk being denied short-term disability benefits. As Chicago’s premier disability law firm, Bryant Legal Group is ready to listen to your story and fight for the benefits you deserve. We pride ourselves on getting fair results for our clients and keeping the insurance industry accountable.
If you or a loved one are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and need help filing a disability claim, contact Bryant Legal Group today or call our office at (312) 561-3010 to schedule your free consultation.