Is a Herniated Disc a Disability?

Is a herniated disc considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA)? Yes, a herniated disc is considered a disability and can qualify for disability benefits if specific criteria are met. To have your disability claim approved, you must meet the specific criteria of a Blue Book listing. The Blue Book is the medical guide used by the SSA to determine if a claimant qualifies for disability benefits.

Types Of Herniated Discs That Are a Disability

Herniated discs can occur in many ways. They are in your back, or spinal area, or in the neck and can affect your mobility as well as your ability to perform routine tasks and work to earn a living. There are three basic kinds of herniated discs. The disc herniation as well as the area of your back where the herniation takes place will impact the severity of your symptoms. Here is a closer look at the three basic kinds of herniated discs.

  • Contained herniation – Often called a bulging disc, there is pressure between the vertebrae and the disc protrudes forward.
  • Non-Contained herniation – Called disc extrusions, a non-contained herniation can cause severe back pain. They can cause tingling and numbness in the extremities because they put pressure on nerves in the area.
  • Sequestered herniation – When a non-contained herniation does not get the medical care needed, it becomes a sequestered herniation. The vertebrae compress the discs so forcefully they will rupture.

How To Get Disability Benefits For a Herniated Disc

The medical guide used by the SSA is the Blue Book. To qualify per the listing that would be used for a herniated disc disability, you must not be able to work for at least 12 months and you must meet the specific listing criteria. Your herniated disc must meet one these three conditions for your claim to be approved per the listing –

  •  Results in a nerve root being compromised or compromises the spinal cord OR
  •  Causes distributed pain, limits spinal motion, and/or causes motor loss because of unused muscles atrophying OR
  • Causes sensory or reflex loss and limits leg motion measured with a straight-leg raising (SLR) test

You must provide MRI results or other imaging reports and other test results and doctor notes to verify the severity of your condition and to confirm it meets the listing criteria. If you cannot meet the criteria of the Blue Book listing, you may still qualify through a medical vocational allowance and the help of a residual functional capacity (RFC) form completed by your physician and detailing your restrictions and limitations.

Get Help With Your Herniated Disc Disability Claim

If you are unable to work because of a herniated disc, you may qualify for disability benefits from the SSA. You will need supporting documentation and hard medical evidence that backs up your claim. A disability lawyer could be an asset to your claim, and the SSA reports that claimants represented by attorneys are more likely to be awarded disability benefits. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form to share the details of your claim with an attorney who helps disabled workers.

Additional Resources

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!