Tips on Applying for Social Security with a Herniated Disc

If you suffer from a herniated disc, you most likely experience excruciating pain, numbness, tingling, and mobility issues. If your herniated disc is so debilitating it makes it impossible for you to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that is overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

To be eligible for monthly benefits, you must have worked to earn sufficient credits and to have paid in adequate taxes to the SSA. Your condition must meet specific criteria of the medical guide used by the SSA to qualify for benefits.

Tip #1: Submit all of your medical evidence.

To support your claim, you need to supply detailed medical records. Medical records that support the diagnosis, the severity of the condition, the limitations and restrictions. Your medical records should include detailed physician notes that explain your symptoms, how your symptoms impact your daily living, and what treatments you have undergone and if they improved symptoms. Your medical records will also indicate any medications you take, such as painkillers, and what side effects they cause, such as dizziness or drowsiness.

Tip #2: Take additional evaluations to prove your disability.

If you have been suffering from excruciating back pain, there are several different conditions that you could be suffering from. To definitively diagnose a herniated disc, specific tests and exams must be done. The lying straight-leg test is on effective test that helps physicians make a diagnosis. You will lie flat on your back with both legs extended.

Your doctor will raise the affected leg up toward your head. If you have a herniated disc, you will experience pain down the back of your leg just below the knee when the leg is raised. A CT scan or MRI scan allows doctors to see the spinal nerves and anatomy such as the disc alignment and configuration to determine if there are problems and their severity. A discogram is done if surgery is being considered. It is a test that is used to determine which disc is the painful disc. Radiographic dye is injected into the disc to recreate the normal pain.

Tip #3: Show that you cannot perform any work you're qualified for.

You should be able to provide supporting documentation that shows how limiting your herniated discs have made your life and impacted your ability to work. A residual functioning capacity (RFC) form from your doctor will also show any limitations or restrictions that you experience because of your condition. As an example, if your back pain makes it impossible for you to bend or lift, that should be indicated. It should also be noted that you must frequently reposition and if your mobility is impacted so that you cannot climb ladders, climb stairs, or walk significant distances.

Tip #4: Use a Social Security disability advocate or an attorney

The disability claims process is very detailed and complicated and requires a lot of material to file. On average, it takes five months to get a decision on a claim. Claims can be denied twice, but appeals may be filed in those situations. The final step would be to appear before an administrative law judge for a ruling on the case. Those who have an advocate or an attorney working on their behalf are much more likely to have their claim approved. You should consult with an advocate or attorney as soon as you decide to file for benefits.