New Changes to Social Security’s Disability Listings

woman in wheelchair talking to woman sitting in front of computer
Apr 2, 2021 | Sara Khaki

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced new updates to its musculoskeletal disability listings, effective April 2, 2021. This is an important set of changes, as they re-define what may constitute a disability and what conditions fall under the musculoskeletal listings.

When filing a musculoskeletal disability claim, it is important to keep these updates in mind. Speak with a trusted Social Security disability representative at our firm for advice on filing your claim and assistance with filing an appeal if necessary.

Updates to Musculoskeletal Disability

Musculoskeletal listings cover back and spine, joint, amputation, and bone issues. New changes require additional requirements and have renumbered listings. Here are some of the key takeaways for the SSA’s updated listings:

  • Applicants should seek proper documentation from a medical source (doctor or surgeon) and undergo medical imaging to represent the injury
  • There is a new listing for pathologic fractures that are caused by disease rather than trauma
  • Spinal stenosis has a new listing separate from other spinal disorders
  • Spinal arachnoiditis is now evaluated under the neurological category, whereas it was previously a musculoskeletal listing
  • Child listing criteria are similar to the adult criteria and include an inability to perform age-appropriate activities rather than work-related abilities (as the adult criteria list)
  • Adults with work-related disabilities must be unable to use both hands for work-related tasks due to a disease or the fact that hands are occupied for use of devices to move (crutches or wheelchair)
  • The inability to move or walk is no longer the basis of a disability impairment, rather the arms and hands’ inability to conduct work-related functions
  • Needing a wheelchair that requires only one hand is no longer a basis for disability

Who do These Updates Impact?

These changes will go into effect on April 2, 2021 and impact all pending disability claims. This means cases that have had a hearing but are still awaiting a decision by the April 2nd deadline will be subject to these updated standards.

With new listing criteria, it is essential for applicants to understand the new updates and how they may pertain to their disability cases. Specifically, it is advisable to speak with medical professionals to understand the severity of your injuries. After a medical consultation, talking to your attorney can help you sort through the new requirements and how they may affect your case.

Reaching Individuals Impacted by COVID-19

Looking ahead, the SSA has announced numerous communication campaigns to reach vulnerable COVID-19 populations. This means that these and subsequent changes may be better broadcasted and understood in the coming months. Likewise, this may signal that the SSA wants to better assist those affected by the pandemic.

If such is the case, there may be more updates coming for disabilities related to COVID-19 in the future. As always, check back to our site for more SSA developments and speak with your disability attorney about new developments that may affect your application for Social Security benefits.


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