When you went to school to become a certified dental hygienist, you may have had high hopes of building and sustaining a rewarding career in Minnesota. Whether you were the sole income provider in your household or part of a married couple where both spouses go to work outside the home, the skills you acquired in school no doubt helped you lay the groundwork for a successful career and to provide for the needs of your family. You never thought it would lead to a permanent disability.
You may not have known at the time that dental hygienists are at great risk for repetitive strain injuries (RSI). RSI is a broad term that refers to a number of injuries that typically affect joints, tendons, muscles or nerve endings in the body. As a dental hygienist, you are on your feet for many hours of the day and also perform repeated motions with your hands, wrists and arms, as you clean the teeth of your patients. This can cause RSI.
How can you make ends meet if you are no longer able to work?
If you suffer RSI or some other debilitating injury on the job as a dental hygienist, the condition might impede your mobility. In fact, chronic pain often associated with such injuries might make it nearly or completely impossible for you to function on your own on a daily basis. Family members, visiting nurses and others in your support network might help you with your own personal hygiene regimen or to prepare food, go shopping or whatever else you might need in the course of an average day.
Financially, however, you may want to learn more about the eligibility requirements to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The intention of such benefits is for people who are no longer able to work due to a disability. RSI is merely one of many physical conditions that may result in a permanent disability. There are also mental health issues, as well as terminal illnesses, that may prevent a person from earning an income. SSD benefits can help bridge the financial gap that widens when a person is no longer able to work.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects many dental hygienists
If you are familiar with inflammation in your wrists or chronic pain issues in your thumbs, hands, wrists or forearms, a doctor may have already diagnosed you with carpal tunnel syndrome. Dental hygienists are especially prone to this condition. Wearing a wrist brace might help, at least for some time. However, this condition can progress until it causes permanent disability.
Merely trying to lift up a coffee mug might be enough to cause you excruciating pain. After years of placing pressure on the nerves in your thumb and wrist area as you carry out your duties in the workplace, it can cause permanent damage.
Filing an appeal if your SSD claim receives a denial
As some other SSD applicants in Minnesota can attest, it is possible that the Social Security Administration (SSA) might deny an initial claim. If your condition does not meet the criteria for a permanent disability, the SSA might say that your application does not qualify for benefits. However, as many workers throughout the state with RSI and other injuries can also attest, an initial denial doesn’t necessarily mean an applicant will not receive benefits.
You should file an appeal if they deny your claim. For instance, if your exact condition, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, isn’t on the list of approved conditions, you may be able to meet the criteria under a different category, such as peripheral neuropathy, which is permanent nerve damage. Applicants are urged to legal help before navigating the appeals process.