Many people ask if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they have a spinal problem. Daily actions such as sitting and walking, as well as sleeping, can put a huge strain on our spines, resulting in pain in our necks and backs. Ninety percent of all Americans have back or neck discomfort at some point in their life. For many people who have severe spinal disorders, the disorder is not only painful but also completely disabled.
Spinal cord disorders are conditions that cause spinal cord damage and degradation. Among these conditions are:
- - Spinal stenosis Tumors
- - Disc herniation
- - Abscess
- - Hematoma
- - Fractures of the vertebrae
- - Degenerative disc disease is a type of disc disease
- The spinal cord is a tube-like structure made up of nerves that runs from the base of the brain down the back. The spinal cord relays information from the brain to the rest of the body. The spinal cord is housed between the vertebrae (the backbone). Each of the four regions of the spinal cord might be impacted by spinal cord diseases. These are some examples:
- Cervical (neck)
- Lumbar (upper back region)
- Thoracic (lower back region)
- Sacral (pelvis)
Spinal diseases can take numerous shapes and have a variety of medical causes. Spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis degenerative disc disease, facet hypertrophy, spinal arachnoiditis, facet arthropathy, herniated discs, facet arthritis, and vertebral fracture are some of the most frequent debilitating conditions. All of these disorders produce significant back and neck pain, as well as additional symptoms such as muscular weakness, immobility, and discomfort that radiates to other parts of the body in many cases.
A simple physical exam is typically used to diagnose debilitating spine problems. If symptoms do not improve after taking prescribed drugs, more testing is required. X-rays, MRI, and CT scans will be ordered by doctors depending on the suspected medical cause. If the disease worsens to the point where it interferes with one's capacity to work, it is time to consider filing for disability.
Millions of people experience back pain, which lowers their quality of life. According to studies, over 80% of Americans will have back pain at some point in their lives. If you experience back discomfort, do you meet the medical criteria for the list of spinal impairments? If this is the case, you may be able to get disability benefits owing to back pain.
Filing for SSDI Benefits for Your Spinal Condition
Eligibility criteria for spinal conditions are outlined in Section 1.04 of the Social Security Administration's impairment listing manual, commonly referred to as the "Blue Book." While some spinal disorders may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain requirements must be met before an application can be approved. The first step in seeking SSDI or SSI for a disabling spinal condition is to obtain a diagnosis from a qualified physician. It's important to note that Disability Determination Services (DDS), which are run by the state, place greater emphasis on a diagnosis from a specialist such as an orthopedist, rather than one from a general practitioner or family doctor.
Once you have a diagnosis for your spinal condition, the next step is to demonstrate how it affects your ability to work. Disability and medical specialists can be helpful in proving your inability to function at work, particularly since certain spine conditions have additional requirements listed in the Blue Book. For example, conditions affecting the lower back must have diagnostic evidence of nerve root compression, sensory or reflex loss, and a positive SLR (Straight Leg Raising) test. For conditions like spinal arachnoiditis, surgical notes and tissue biopsy reports may be required. It can be very useful to seek the guidance of a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer or disability advocate to determine all the specific requirements for pursuing disability benefits based on a spine disability.
Medical Qualifications Through RFC for Disability Benefits for Spinal Disorder
Just because you have a medical condition that prevents you from working does not necessarily mean that you meet the medical criteria outlined in the Blue Book to qualify for disability benefits. However, you may still be eligible for benefits through a medical vocational allowance. This process takes into consideration various factors such as your age, medical conditions, symptoms, work history, transferrable skills, and educational background to determine if you are capable of working and what type of work you may be able to perform.
To qualify for a medical vocational allowance, you will need to have an RFC (residual functional capacity) assessment completed by your treating physician. This assessment is a detailed form that outlines your limitations and restrictions, indicating what you can and cannot do. For example, it may specify that you need to reposition yourself every hour or two, cannot stand for more than two consecutive hours, cannot lift more than 10 pounds, cannot bend and reach, and need assistance getting up from a seated position.
The RFC helps DDS (Disability Determination Services) understand how your medical conditions affect your ability to function and work. If you can demonstrate that your daily tasks are limited and this affects your ability to work and earn a living, then you may qualify for benefits even if you do not meet the Blue Book criteria.
Overall, the medical vocational allowance process, which includes the RFC provided by your treating physician, helps the SSA (Social Security Administration) determine that your medical condition prevents you from performing any type of work that you are qualified for, allowing you to qualify for benefits despite not meeting the Blue Book criteria.
Applying for Disability Benefits for Your Spinal Condition
If you have a spinal condition that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits. When applying for disability benefits, you must demonstrate that your condition is disabling and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. There are three ways to apply for disability benefits:
- Online: You can start your application online at the Social Security Administration's website.
- Phone: You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to a representative who will assist you with your application.
- In person: You can schedule an appointment at your local Social Security office to apply in person.
Regardless of the method you choose, it's important to provide as much information as possible about your spinal condition, including medical records, test results, and other relevant information. This will help the Social Security Administration determine if you are eligible for disability benefits based on your spinal condition. It's also important to note that the application process may take several months, so it's important to be patient and persistent in following up on your application status.
Seek Professional Legal Help
For more legal help, you can consult our expert disability attorneys at The Law Office of Irene Ruzin.