RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Social Security Disability


RSD, which stands for reflex sympathetic dystrophy is a form of complex regional pain syndrome. Both complex regional pain syndrome and RSD are commonly associated with disease, surgery on a limb, or following traumatic personal injury cases (such as after a serious motor vehicle accident).

The pain is characterized as constant, extremely intense and out of proportion to the original injury.

That pain is joined by swelling, decreased or excessive sweating, abnormal hair or nail growth, changes in skin texture or color, osteoporosis and involuntary movements of the affected region of the initial injury.

The injury alone sounds pretty uncomfortable but it can be much worse. The pain and discomfort from RSD/CRPS may render the sufferer unable to use the limb. Even worse, the condition can spread to another limb or cause muscle wasting or muscle contracture, which is a tightening or shortening of the muscles that cause joint stiffness.

A person suffering with RSD/CRPS may have a condition that is equally or more disabling than joint impairments that cause someone to lose the use of his or her arms or legs. Unfortunately, Social Security does not list RSD or CRPS in its list of impairments but there are disorders of major joints that lead to ineffective walking or use of the hands that qualify for disability benefits under the musculoskeletal listings.

So how can your RSD or CRPS qualify for Social Security benefits?

For starters, Social Security must find that your CRPS or RSD is a “medically determinable impairment.” This means that there is objective evidence that your pain comes from a medical condition. Your limb sweating, abnormal hair or nail growth or change in color or temperature are all examples of measurable, objective evidence. It is of the utmost importance for your doctor or medical professional to record these findings and take measurements of your muscle strength and flexibility.

After that assessment, Social Security will look at how your symptoms keep you from working. Per law, if the agency considers your complaints credible, it is required to consider how your pain affects your abilities. It will assess your RFC (residual functional capacity) and use it to determine if you are disabled.

If Social Security deems that your RSD or CRPS keeps you from working then you may be eligible to get disability compensation.

If you are suffering (or have suffered) from complex regional pain syndrome, Pennsylvania law may entitle you to recover damages. Fill out our online form or call  The Law Office of Mark A. Smith to set up a free consultation with a leading personal injury attorney today.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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