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Major Joint Dysfunction, Pt. 1

Major dysfunction of a joint is found under 1.02 in the Social Security Listing of Impairments. Joint dysfunction is recognized as a disability regardless of the cause. It involves anatomical deformity, but secondary impairments can lead to multiple listings or in some cases, listing in a different section. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis is listed under 1.02, but when coupled with ongoing inflammation, evaluation of the impairment is done under 14.09.

Major joint dysfunction falls into two major categories within the Listing:

  • Impairment to a single major peripheral joint that is weight-bearing, such as a hip, knee, or ankle.
  • Impairment to a major peripheral joint in the upper extremities, such as a shoulder, wrist, or hand.


When a weight-bearing joint is damaged, your ability to perform such basic activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or bending down can be severely compromised. Your condition will be serious enough to require the use of a walker or crutches, if you can walk at all. This further inhibits your activities because both hands and arms are engaged in assisting movement.

Dysfunction to upper extremity joints generally affects your ability to lift, push, pull, and carry objects. If you are physically capable of performing the task at all, you will be in too much pain to do so.


A common cause of major joint dysfunction is arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, a common culprit, is an auto-immune disease, and thus complications involving the immune system may lead to impairment under other listings as well. Whether RA leads to a compromised immune system or is caused by it is unclear.

Other causes of joint dysfunction include stress injury, accidents, birth defects, infection, cancer, and genetic defects. In some cases there may be no effective medical treatment for the joint dysfunction.

Continue to Major Joint Dysfunction, Pt. 2.