Everyday activities from sitting and walking to sleeping can put tremendous strain on our spines, which can often manifest in the form of pain in our necks and backs. In America, ninety percent of all people suffer from back or neck pain at some point during their lives. For many of those that suffer from severe spinal conditions, the disorder is not simply painful but truly disabling.
Spinal disorders can come in many different forms and have varying medical causes. Some of the most common disabling problems include spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal arachnoiditis, herniated discs, facet arthritis, and vertebral fracture. All of these conditions cause severe back and neck pain, and in many cases may cause other symptoms including muscular weakness, immobility, and pain that radiates to other places in the body.
Diagnosis of disabling spinal conditions generally begins with a simple physical exam. If symptoms do not decrease after prescription medications are administered, additional testing is necessary. Depending on the suspected medical cause, physicians will order X-rays, MRI, and CT scans. Should the condition progress to the point where it interferes with the ability to work, then it is time to consider filing for disability.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Spine Condition
Section 1.04 of the Social Security Adminstration's impairment listing manual, also known as the “Blue Book,” describes eligibility criteria for spinal conditions. While many spinal disorders are covered under Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain conditions must be met before the application will be approved. The first step in filing for SSDI or SSI due to a disabling spinal condition is having a specific diagnosis made by a qualified physician. Keep in mind, that the state-run Disability Determination Services (DDS) give much greater weight to a diagnosis by a specialist like an orthopedist than that of a general practitioner or family doctor.
Next you must prove that the condition affects your ability to work. Again, medical and disability specialists are the best people to turn to help prove inability to function at work, particular as some spine conditions have additional requirements designated in the Blue Book. For example, there must be diagnostic evidence of nerve root compression, sensory or reflex loss, and a positive SLR (Straight Leg Raising) test for conditions affecting the lower back. Some conditions, such as spinal arachnoiditis, will require surgical notes and tissue biopsy reports. Consulting with a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate can prove invaluable in determining all the specific requirements for pursuing disability benefits on the basis of a spine disability.
Your Spine Disorder Disability Claim
Spinal conditions are some of the most painful and disabling medical disorders. Whether your spinal condition was caused by a traumatic injury or a degenerative disorder you may qualify for SSDI or SSI assistance. When you are diagnosed with a disabling spinal condition, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. While you should be focused on doing everything you can to feel better, the unfortunate fact is that you will probably have to deal with the reality of paying bills and caring for loved ones.
Luckily, Social Security Disability attorneys and advocates are available to help you through every step of the approval process. Qualified legal assistance can help you with everything from preparing your initial Social Security Disability application to assisting with the reconsideration and appeals processes.