• Christopher Le

New Regulation in effect making it harder for those with Musculoskeletal Problems to qualify for SSD

On April 2, 2021, a new regulation went into effect. The regulation makes it harder for people with “musculoskeletal impairments” to claim social security disability benefits. This new regulation now states:

  • Muscle strength: Measurement will be based on a muscle strength grading system that is considered medically acceptable for the person’s age and impairments. The SSA will also accept muscle strength tests using scales other than the 0 to 5 scale, provided the scales used are equivalent, medically acceptable scales.

  • Hand-held devices: The SSA clarified that hand-held assistive devices are devices one holds onto, not carries with their hands.

  • Wheeled and seated mobility devices: These will be added to the list of functional criteria based on how the wheeled and seated mobility device affects the person’s use of the upper extremities.

  • Obesity: The SSA confirmed that obesity and its effect on the musculoskeletal system will continue to be evaluated to assess if it is a medically determinable impairment.

This new rule will remain in effect for 5 years unless extended or revised.


This regulation reverses our Social Security system’s longtime notion that people who are undeniably unable to work should not have to jump through time-consuming hoops and hurdles to receive their social security disability benefits. Now, these workers who gave so much to our country will be at risk of bankruptcy, homelessness, and even death while they prove to Saul and Black’s satisfaction that they truly can’t continue to support themselves through work.

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