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Can you get disability benefits for back pain with no known cause?

In order to grant benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires a definitive diagnosis. This means back pain with no known cause is not sufficient for receiving disability benefits, even if chronic pain is severe enough to prevent you from working.

The key to receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with back pain is to work closely with your doctor to determine a diagnosis. That diagnosis may not be complicated, but the SSA does need to see that there is either:

  • An identifiable physical cause of the pain you experience
  • OR

  • A mental illness that manifests physical pain, like a somatoform disorder.

In other words, the SSA must see that your back pain is a symptom of another condition, and that condition must be identified as a definitive diagnosis in your medical records. Back pain can certainly prevent you from working, whether your job is primarily sedentary or physical in nature. Conditions that cause back pain include:

  • Root nerve inflammation or irritation
  • Spinal nerve compression or inflammation
  • Chronic or major muscle strains
  • Injuries to the bones or ligaments
  • Disc injuries or degeneration

Many back pain cases are caused by muscle or ligament strains. These can be chronic in nature and can lead to even more complex issues with the spine, nerves, and muscles. Although it can take some time to determine the exact cause of back pain, it is essential that you and your doctor work together to identify what is causing your issues. Determining how to treat your pain requires you can discover its cause. The SSA must also know what the general cause of your condition is in order to be able to consider you for disability benefits. You can get the best sense of your case's chances by filling out this free evaluation form, which will allow you to speak to someone regarding your case.