Disability and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): Benefits And Filing

Social Security evaluates CRPS the same way as RSD.


I broke my foot late last year and it hasn't healed well. I still can't work because of the pain, and I've just been diagnosed with CRPS. Can I get disability benefits because of it?


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) describes when a person has continuous, severe pain and sensitivity to touch that results from a previous injury to bone or soft tissue. The severity of pain is usually out of proportion to the seriousness of the original injury.

Complex regional pain syndrome is divided into two types—the difference is whether a nerve lesion is present. Type I, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or Sudeck’s atrophy, does not involve an apparent lesion on a nerve. In Type II CRPS, formerly called causalgia, an obvious nerve lesion is present. The type of complex regional pain syndrome an individual has determines the symptomology an individual experiences. Treatment options for complex regional pain syndrome may involve the use of corticosteriods, anesthetic injections, physical therapy, surgical intervention, and antidepressants.

Social Security disability benefits (SSD or SSI) can be available for this sometimes chronic condition when it doesn't go away within 12 months. But first, you'll have to prove that there is some objective evidence for your subjective complaints of pain. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) to be synonymous with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). To find out when you can get disability for this pain syndrome, see our article on disability benefits for RSD. And for information on chronic pain in general, see our article on how Social Security evaluates chronic pain symptoms.


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