Qualifying for SSD with Back and Spine Disabilities

Back and spine injuries affect a large number of Americans each year. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are currently more than 200,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the United States today.

A back and spinal cord injury can also prevent you from performing normal duties at work and at home. This may leave you in need of Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits to make ends meet, but you may find yourself asking, “What classifies a back or spinal injury as disabling?”

Our team of attorneys could help determine whether you qualify for SSD with a back or spine disability. To learn more about the conditions that may qualify you for disability compensation, contact our firm.

Back and Spine SSD Claims

The Social Security Administration lists a number of different spine and back conditions that will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, as well as a list of evidence and documentation that is needed to prove the condition is disabling. Some of those conditions include:

  • Herniated Nucleus Pulposus
  • Spinal Arachnoiditis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

The rules that govern the processes for applying for Social Security Disability benefits due to back or spinal cord injuries can be quite complex, which is why it may be a good idea to speak with an attorney about your case prior to completing your application.

Herniated Discs

The vertebrae in your back — the bones that form your spine — are separated by soft, flexible discs. These discs protect your vertebrae and keep them from mashing into one another. If one of these discs gets damaged, either through trauma or simple wear and tear, the disc may break open. This is what is referred to as a herniated or slipped disc.

A herniated disc, classified by the SSA as a “herniated nucleus pulposus,” can be extremely painful and result in diminished quality of life.

Are Disc Herniations Considered a Disability?

The SSA will evaluate a herniated disc based on an examination of the spine and will usually include a test of the following:

  • Deep tendon reflexes
  • Determination of nerve root damage (every vertebrae has a nerve root; when damaged, the result is either serious pain or loss of sensation)
  • How much pain the herniated disc is causing and where the pain is felt
  • Incidence of muscle spasms
  • Range of motion
  • Signs of tension

Degenerative Disc Disease

Not actually a disease, degenerative disc disease is a condition that results when the intervertebral discs in the back begin to degenerate. This is a normal part of aging, but for some people, degenerated discs can result in chronic pain and limited mobility.

Spinal discs — soft, compressible discs that separate the vertebrae in the spine — help absorb shock so the spine can properly move. There is very little blood supply to spinal discs, so once a disc is injured it can’t repair itself. It may be able to function properly after the injury, but many discs begin to degenerate. The degenerated disc results in less padding between vertebrae and causes the spine to lose stability.

Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region).

How Does the SSA Evaluate Degenerative Disc Disease?

This condition is evaluated by the SSA based on your evidence of disc herniation, back pain, lumbar problems, spinal stenosis, or degenerative joint disease. The SSA will need records — such as x-rays, CAT scans, and/or MRI scans — from your healthcare provider. You also will need to provide documentation of all other related clinical records, symptoms, and prescribed treatments and responses.

Because each instance of degenerative disc disease is different, it is best to contact one of our SSD benefit attorneys to discuss the details of your back and spine disability claim.

Social Security Disability for Back Pain

Back pain and other disorders of the spine can affect the lower back, middle back, or upper back. Common back pain causes include muscular and nerve problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis.

As back pain affects the musculoskeletal system, it is classified with other conditions that may result from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathologic processes. Impairments may result from infectious, inflammatory, or degenerative processes, traumatic or developmental events, or neoplastic, vascular, or toxic/metabolic diseases.

3 Types of Back Pain that Qualify for SSD Benefits

According to the SSA, back pain is considered disabling if it meets one of three criteria:

  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, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every two hours
  3. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to walk effectively

Obtaining SSD Benefits for Back and Spine Disabilities

If you have a diagnosed back or spine disability that causes you to not be able to work, you may qualify for SSD benefits. Consider applying for disability compensation with the help of our attorneys. You can get the strong legal advocate you need without worrying about cost. Call us 24/7 to get in touch with one of our local SSD attorneys.


    Reach out to a Terre Haute Personal Injury Attorney Today

    The financial burden that often comes with a serious injury can be too much for many people to bear. Unexpected medical debt, damaged personal property, and the sudden loss of income can impact the budgets of most families. The good news is that a successful injury claim could help reduce that financial strain after a serious accident. Get in touch with a Terre Haute personal injury lawyer with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin to learn more.

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