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By Diana Wade
Disability Advocate 

Can avascular necrosis qualify for Social Security Disability?

Ask the Advocate


Avascular necrosis, or bone death (osteonecrosis), happens when an area of the bone does not get enough blood supply. Avascular necrosis causes small breaks throughout the bone structure that can eventually lead to fractures. The hips are a common place for avascular necrosis to occur.

Excessive consumption of alcohol, sickle-cell anemia, trauma to the area, or the long-term use of some steroidal medications can all cause avascular necrosis.

The symptoms of avascular necrosis are pain in the joint, reduced range of motion, and stiffness, and vary in intensity depending on the stage of the disease. Some patients feel no pain from the disease.

Avascular necrosis is treated with medications, physical therapy, and in more serious cases, surgery. Prognosis depends on what joints have been affected and how far the bone death has progressed.

To determine whether you are eligible for disability because of your avascular necrosis, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must examine the documented symptoms of your condition and decide whether they actually prevent you from working.

If you had hip replacement surgery due to bone death in your hips, you may be able to get disability benefits if you are still unable to walk properly (ambulate effectively) after surgery.

If Social Security determines you can still perform your past work, your claim will be denied; however, if the SSA thinks you can no longer do your old job, it will determine whether there is any other work you could do. Depending on your age, education and past work experience there may not be any jobs.

To make this determination, the SSA will review all the  medical evidence you have provided  in support of your claim and prepare a  Residual Functional Capacity assessment  (RFC). An RFC details how your avascular necrosis has affected your ability to perform certain job-related functions.


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