Our Philadelphia + Bucks County Disability Attorneys Can Help
If youre a Pennsylvania resident who suffers from chronic back pain, monthly benefits may be available to you. The social security attorneys of Young, Marr & Associates can help evaluate your situation and review some of your legal options going forward. To arrange for a free and private case evaluation, call our law offices right away at 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.
DISABILITY RESOURCE CENTER
What Spinal Conditions Qualify For Disability
If you have a condition of the spine that makes it impossible for you to work and earn a living, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has two programs, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income .
Both these programs have strict medical criteria that must be met, and you must have a condition that will leave you unable to work for a year or longer, or that is expected to end in your death.
There are dozens of spinal disorders, and many of these conditions are specifically listed in the SSA medical guide, which is called the Blue Book. Even if your condition itself isnt specifically listed in the Blue Book, you still may qualify for benefits using a medical-vocational allowance or the residual functional capacity .
Listing 1409 Inflammatory Arthritis
If you dont qualify for disability under any of the above listings, you may qualify under Listing 14.09, Inflammatory arthritis . To meet Listing 14.09, you must provide objective medical evidence that your arthritis has resulted in the following:
- Swelling or deformity of:
- your hip, knee or ankle joints that causes extreme interference with your ability to walk on your own, or
- your shoulder, elbow or wrist/hand that makes it difficult to take care of yourself and perform your day-to-day activities.
- Swelling or deformity of your hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, or ankle/footwith:
- associated disease in at least two of your organs or body systems, with one organ or body system affected more than minimally, and
- at least two of following: severe fatigue, malaise, weight loss, or fever.
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Specific Types Of Back Pain That Can Qualify You For Disability Benefits
In order to prove your case, youll need to provide ample evidence of your disability. That means hospital records, doctors reports, supporting statements from friends and family and more.
Back pain, however, can be a vague term. Social Security doesnt have an listing just for back pain, but it does recognize some back problems, such as:
- Herniated disc
And even if your issues dont fit these exact descriptions, you can still qualify. Heres what you must prove:
- Your back pain makes working impossible.
- Youre unable to change to a different line of work.
- Your health will force you out of work for at least a year or more.
If youre in the Chicago area or anywhere in Illinois, call Nash Disability Law today to start the process.
Well answer you have. And well even evaluate your case for free.
Request A Free Consultation
If your claim has been wrongfully denied or terminated, call or provide your contact information using the form on our contact page to request a free case evaluation. You will only need to answer a few questions to help us determine if this is a claim we can assist you with, and we can schedule a time for you to discuss an attorney-client relationship with our firm. We would welcome the opportunity for you to tell us about your case.
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Starting A Disability Claim For Back Pain
Call the SSA at 800-772-1213 to set up an appointment to fill out an application for disability If you donât know whether you are eligible for Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income , you can apply for both. When you fill out your application, include both how your back pain affects your life outside of work and how it impairs your ability to work. If you have both severe back problems and a mental impairment, such as depression , be sure to include symptoms and documentation of the mental impairment as well.
|Take our disability quiz to help you determine whether you qualify for benefits.
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Whether You Can Get Social Security Disability After A Spinal Fusion Depends On What Your Physical Limitations Are
By Aaron Hotfelder, J.D., University of Missouri School of Law
Spinal fusion surgery is often recommended for people suffering from broken vertebrae, spinal weakness, spinal deformities, and chronic lower back pain. Other conditions that cause instability in the spine, such as degenerative disk disease, arthritis, or scoliosis, can require spinal fusions as well.
As the name suggests, spinal fusion surgery involves fusing together two or more spinal vertebrae using bone graft material with rods, plates, or screws to hold the vertebrae and graft in place. As the bone graft heals, the vertebrae become permanently connected and immobilized.
A successful spinal fusion surgery can improve spinal stability and relieve chronic back pain. But a spinal fusion procedure typically requires many months of recovery, frequently requiring the use of a back brace, and positive results are not guaranteed. Risks from spinal fusion include spinal cord damage, graft rejection, increased back pain, and infection.
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How The Ssa Handles Back Pain
To qualify for disability benefits, the SSA typically requires that you have a condition that is medically determinable. Your back pain should, therefore, be identifiable to a certain medical condition of the spine or spinal canal. In addition, medical evidence such as X-rays, doctors notes, and MRIs need to be submitted with your application in order to prove the existence of your medical condition.
The challenge with back pain is that you may experience it often without the pain being caused by a specific medical condition. Such a situation makes it difficult for you to obtain benefits from the SSA. Because pain is subjective , medical evaluations can understate the severity of a chronic back pain condition making it difficult for you to obtain benefits.
How Activities Of Daily Living Affect Your Credibility
The most important thing that Social Security considers to evaluate your credibility is your activities of daily living . In the application process, you will provide information about what you are able to do despite your disability. For example, are you able to cook, clean, do yard work, shop, and care for children? Social Security may also send you an ADL questionnaire to fill out or make an ADL call to your friends and relatives to ask whether you can do certain activities.
Be sure to consider how your chronic pain makes everyday life difficult. For example, you may be able to do the same household chores you always did, but perhaps they take three times as long because you have to stop and rest so much. When you go shopping, do you have to have someone come along to carry the bags? What about your social life do you still go out to see friends, or has it been months since you left your house except to see the doctor?
It is important to be honest with yourself about how limited your life has become. If your activities of daily living appear normal, Social Security will find it hard to believe that your chronic pain is disabling.
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Social Security Disability Benefits For Back Impairments
Do you have back pain that results in disability? To qualify for disability benefits, the SSA requires you to have a medically determinable impairment that lasts for at least one year. This means that MRIs, CT scans, or x-rays, should show show that your back pain is objectively caused by some spinal abnormality. Some disc herniations dont produce pain, even if the disc is abnormal. But it is pain from a back impairment that causes the inability to work. Therefore, If you have back pain without any pain or impairment, than your are unlikely to win disability benefits.
Millions of people have back impairments. It is one of the most common disability claims. Social Security approves only the most severe cases of back pain. Likewise, they only approve back claims that have objective medical evidence of disability. Most people who apply for disability due to back pain have already undergone surgery. They may be experiencing back pain that radiates down the legs and prevents standing, walking, or sitting.
The most common cause of back pain is osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease. The SSA recognizes that back pain can be disabling under Listed Impairment 1.15. Below please find a copy of the listing. If you can show you have a nerve root compression, spinal arachnoiditis, or lumbar spinal stenosis, you may meet the disability criteria.
What Medical Conditions Qualify For Disability Benefits
Any medical condition can qualify for disability benefits. Generally speaking, most disability benefits programs in Canada do not give benefits based on a medical diagnosis. Rather, they provide benefits based on the level of disability caused by the medical condition. So the focus will always be on the level of disability caused by your medical condition, rather than only the name of your medical condition or diagnosis. To qualify for benefits, you must show that the level of disability from your medical condition meets the eligibility criteria of the disability benefits plan in question.
Following is a list of common medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits. For each of these conditions we discuss the unique challenges you will face.
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What If Your Medical Condition Is Not On The List Though
Luckily, the SSA has ruled in favor of individuals without these specific conditions previously. This has set precedent for individuals with varying injuries and disabilities to still qualify for compensation. That being said, you cannot make claims without medical proof of your condition. That includes medical documentation, from SSA-approved doctors. The medical evidence required typically includes:
- Physician examination
Objective Signs And Symptoms
You must be able to prove to the SSA that the symptoms of your back problem are caused by a “medically determinable impairment.” This means that you have to provide the SSA with evidence that shows you have some sort of back abnormality. For example:
- an x-ray that demonstrate a fractured vertebra
- discography or myelogram that highlights the damaged area in your back
- a CT scan which indicates you have spinal stenosis
- an MRI that shows you have bone degeneration, or
- an EMG that establishes the presence of muscle weakness in your body.
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Does Back Pain Qualify You For Disability Pay
Yes. Back injuries and degenerative conditions are some of the most common disabling conditions.
Back pain is typically the result of car accidents or other traumatic injuries, but it can also be caused by wear and tear over time.
While it is very common for older people to develop back pain, individuals engaged in strenuous work tend to develop these issues at an earlier age.
Serious back pain can make everyday activities a chore. And worse, it can make full-time work impossible.
What Are The Requirements For Social Security Applicants
If youre applying for social security benefits, there are some basic medical and financial criteria youll need to meet:
- You need to have a disability which is severe enough to interfere with employment. If your condition is manageable and doesnt stop you from working, you wont be considered severely disabled.
- Your condition either should have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months.
- SSDI applicants should not be earning any more than $1,070 per month as of 2014. The income limits are lower for SSI applicants, but not all income will be counted.
As you can see, the first condition on the list is more open to interpretation than the others. As a result, most denials are due to the claimants medical problem not being considered severe enough by SSA doctors. If your application was rejected by the SSA, our social security lawyers can help you strengthen your claim and navigate through the complex appeals system.
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Symptoms Of Chronic Pain
- Persistent mild to severe pain
- Stabbing, shooting or burning pain
- Stiffness, muscle tightness and chronic discomfort
In addition to depression, sufferers experience a host of other side effects that can make even the simplest daily activity a challenge. These additional side effects include:
- Fear, anxiety and a sense of despair
- Weakened immune system
- Mood swings
As the above list suggests the emotional toll of this condition is often considerable and can actually make the pain worse. Feelings of depression, fear and hopelessness can create complex interactions between mind and body which must be addressed in concert with the underlying condition.
What Kinds Of Back Problems Can Qualify You For Disability
Back pain is a part of life. Some experts believe that up to 80% of people will experience some form of back pain at some point in their lives. But if you suffer from intense, constant and debilitating back pain, its a different story. Some forms of back pain are so severe that they prevent someone from working and living a normal life. If you suffer from back pain caused by one of these conditions, you may qualify for short-term or even long-term disability claims and benefits.
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Diagnostic Imaging Helps But Credibility Is Key
The most common reason that long-term disability claims for back problems get denied is lack of objective evidence of disability. However, you can seek out diagnostic imaging to prove the disorder. This evidence alone isnt enough to win disability benefits, but it is valuable for your case. It can help show your pain is legitimate.
Make sure to tell the doctor about your problems and pain in detail. Then, they will choose an imaging technique that fits and analyze the results for a diagnosis.
The most common imaging techniques are X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. X-rays can check for instability in the structure of the bones to find issues such as spinal fractures. CT scans are more detailed than x-rays. They can image specific conditions such as spinal stenosis or a bulging disc.
MRI scans are used to assess details of the disc and nerve root. They allow doctors to identify disorders like degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, and spinal stenosis. An important note about MRI results is that there is no accepted link between back pain and what can be seen on an MRI. This is where credibility becomes very important.
One of the best ways to build credibility is to try a variety of treatments for your back pain. You will have a much better chance of getting disability benefits for back problems if you work with professionals who can back up your claims.
What Back Conditions Qualify For Disability
Back pain can be debilitating. Often, back problems can be severe enough to keep you from working and earning a living. You might be wondering what conditions qualify for disability? Many people who find themselves limited because of back problems apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration oversees Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance . To meet the medical criteria of either program, you must have a condition that will leave you disabled for a minimum of a year, or it must be a condition that is expected to result in your death.
SSDI is based on your work history, so you must have worked the equivalent of five years full-time out of the last 10 years, while SSI is needs-based and specific income and resource requirements apply.
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Social Security Listings For Back Disorders
The SSA usually finds that disability from herniated or bulging discs lasts less than a year.
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Many, but not all, individuals with spinal cord injuries are automatically eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
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If laminectomy or discectomy fails to relieve your symptoms, or causes complications, Social Security disability benefits may be available.
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Can Back Pain Qualify For Disability
The main issue in your Social Security back pain disability case is whether or not you are able to work. In a back pain case, Social Security considers both your activity limitations and your pain limitations . In order to win, you have to prove that because of these impairments, there is no way you can perform even a simple, unskilled job 8 hours a day, five days a week.
There are two ways you can prove that you are unable to work:You can meet the back pain listing by showing SSA that your spinal damage is equal to the medical criteria for musculoskeletal injury set out in the Code of Federal Regulations.You can prove that your functional capacity for performing work at any level has been so reduced by your spinal damage that you would not be able to obtain or keep any type of full time job.Either way, while you have to identify a medical reason for your inability to work, you will not win if you focus on the details of your medical condition. Instead, your focus must be the specific ways in which your ability to function has been limited by your condition.
What is missing here? These notes are perfectly good as documentation of your illness and your treatment. However, they may not help you in your Social Security case.
Some judges may, however, recognize the significance of a long treatment history, and might be more inclined to accept limitations set out in your testimony. Other judges, however, are less inclined to believe anything unless it is in your record.
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