Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits for Back Problems

Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits for Back Problems

A person with back problems experiences a great deal of pain, often making it incredibly difficult to complete daily activities. However, even though this pain may be intense, it may not meet the requirements to qualify the individual for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Further, the SSA does not approve many claims for back pain.

SSA Disability Determination

In order to qualify for disability benefits, the individual must either not be working or, if working, have earnings that are less than $1,090 per month. The impairment must also interfere with the person’s ability to complete basic work-related activities.

An individual will automatically receive benefits if he or she suffers from one of the SSA listed impairments. The listed impairments include disorders of the spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord with:

  1. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine).
  2. Spinal arachnoiditis…manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours.
  3. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication…manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively.

Certainly, this definition includes complex medical terminology, which will require a medical professional to diagnose and fully explain. There are many ways to test whether an individual suffers from a disorder of the spine, including x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, just to name a few. Some examples of disorders of the spine listed by the SSA include:

  1. Herniated nucleus pulposus
  2. Spinal arachnoiditis
  3. Osteoarthritis
  4. Degenerative disc disease

If the individual’s condition is not included in the listed impairments, the SSA will have to determine if the condition is of equal severity to a condition on the list. If it is, the SSA will determine that the individual is disabled. In relation to back issues, an individual will have to prove that the pain is caused by some abnormality of the spine.

If it is determined that it is not of equal severity and the person cannot perform the same type of work he or she performed previously, a determination will have to be made in regards to any alternative work the individual could complete. In making this decision, the SSA will consider the physical limitations of the individual. For someone with back pain, this could involve difficulty walking or the inability to bend over, both of which may make it challenging to perform work tasks. If it is determined that the person cannot perform other work, disability benefits will be granted.

Help with Disabilities Claims

The laws regarding how individuals obtain disability benefits can be complex, making it important to speak with an attorney in this specialized area of law. At the Klok Law Firm LLC, we have experience helping individuals through the process of applying for disabilities benefits. If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us today.