BACK PAIN AND DISABILITY BENEFITS
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR BACK IMPAIRMENTS
Do you have back pain that results in disability? To qualify for disability benefits, the SSA requires you to have a “medically determinable” impairment that lasts for at least one year. This means that MRI’s, CT scans, or x-rays, should show show that your back pain is objectively caused by some spinal abnormality. Some disc herniations don’t produce pain, even if the disc is abnormal. But it is pain from a back impairment that causes the inability to work. Therefore, if you have back pain without any pain or impairment, then you are unlikely to win disability benefits.
Millions of people have back impairments. It is one of the most common disability claims. Social Security approves only the most severe cases of back pain. Likewise, they only approve back claims that have objective medical evidence of disability. Most people who apply for disability due to back pain have already undergone surgery. They may be experiencing back pain that radiates down the legs and prevents standing, walking, or sitting.
The most common cause of back pain is osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease. The SSA recognizes that back pain can be disabling under Listed Impairment 1.15. Below please find a copy of the listing. If you can show you have a nerve root compression, spinal arachnoiditis, or lumbar spinal stenosis, you may meet the disability criteria.
BACK PAIN CAN RESULT IN DISABILITY UNDER LISTING 1.15
SSA issues regulations that are meant to encapsulate disability. SSA Listing 1.15 is used to document a back impairment the is causing compromise of a nerve root. When a nerve root is damaged this results in pain, numbness, muscle spasms, and possibly loss of sensation in one of your extremities. Nerve root pain can result in disability. See the outline of nerve root compromise and spinal disability below.
LISTING 1.15 – COMPROMISE OF THE NERVE ROOT
1.15 Disorders of the skeletal spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root(s) (see 1.00F), documented by A, B, C, and D:
PART B OF LISTING 1.15
2. Sign(s) of nerve root irritation, tension, or compression, consistent with compromise of the affected nerve root (see 1.00F2)
PART C OF LISTING 1.15
C. Findings on imaging (see 1.00C3) consistent with compromise of a nerve root(s) in the cervical or lumbosacral spine.
PART D OF LISTING 1.15
D. Impairment-related physical limitation of musculoskeletal functioning that has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and medical documentation of at least one of the following:
1. A documented medical need (see 1.00C6) for a walker, bilateral canes, or bilateral crutches (see 1.00C6d) or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands (see 1.00C6e(i)); or
2. An inability to use one upper extremity to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities involving fine and gross movements (see 1.00E4), and a documented medical need (see 1.00C6a) for a one-handed, hand-held assistive device (see 1.00C6d) that requires the use of the other upper extremity or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of one hand (see 1.00C6e(ii)); or
3. An inability to use both upper extremities to the extent that neither can be used to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities involving fine and gross movements (see 1.00E4).
DOES YOUR BACK PAIN QUALIFY FOR SSD BENEFITS?
Most people with back pain that results in disability will have seen an orthopedic doctor and a neurosurgeon. First, your pain will be so severe that you will have trouble standing, sitting, and walking. Usually, if you have lower back pain, the pain will radiate from your low back down into one of your legs. Sometimes, pain can go down both legs. This radiating pain is sciatica. The causes of sciatica are usually a pinched nerve which can come from a disc herniation. Sciatica and back pain impairs your ability to walk, sit, and stand.
Likewise, you can also have neck pain or cervical herniations. Arthritis in the upper back and neck can cause radiating pain down your arms and headaches. For instance, if one of the discs in your neck degenerates, it will pinch a nerve that goes into your arm. Your arm will feel a tingling sensation. Also, you might have numbness, pain, and an inability to use your fingers for fine dexterity.
Treatment for chronic back pain and sciatica usually involves physical therapy, pain medications, and possibly epidural steroid injections. If this type of conservative therapy does not work, then you will need surgery. Before undergoing surgery, make sure you find a surgeon who has an excellent reputation. Also, try everything before undergoing surgery.
You should try physical therapy, medications, acupuncture, yoga, and chiropractic care. If you try all of the therapies, you will know if anything makes your pain go away. If it does not, then surgery may be your only remaining option. Once you have surgery, you may be able to return to work. If not, then you may be diagnosed with failed back surgery. If you have failed back surgery, you need to apply for SSD and SSI benefits.
APPLY FOR SSD AND SSI BENEFITS IF YOU CANNOT WORK
Many people wait to apply for SSD benefits because they think they are going to get better. For example, you may have hurt your back at work and may need surgery. Perhaps you believe that once you have back surgery you will be able to return to work. Unfortunately, there are times when surgery does not work. If you wait until to apply for benefits until long after back surgery, you may miss out on months or years of SSD benefits. This is money that you need to support yourself while you are not working. Benefits can also result in Medicare or Medicaid, which is health insurance that you may need to obtain surgery or receiving ongoing treatment for back pain.
If you have disabling back pain and cannot work, you should apply for disability benefits. You should not wait to apply until you get better or are out of pain. Social Security Disability benefits are based upon the number of years you work and the amount of money you earn. The amount of the monthly benefit is different for everyone. If you have not been able to recover after a back operation, are still using a cane or walker, and suffer from severe pain, you probably qualify for benefits.
CONTACT CANNON DISABILITY FOR HELP WITH BACK PAIN THAT RESULTS IN DISABILTY
Contact Cannon Disability Law today to see if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income. We can often tell you over the phone if you are eligible. Please call us and tell us why you cannot work. We also need to know who your doctors are and if you have already sent in an application for benefits. We have won over 20,000 disability claims for our clients.
Our attorneys’ practice in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California. Our main office is in Salt Lake City, Utah, but we can represent you where you live. Likewise, we practice in Nevada and Idaho on a routine bases and have attorneys that are members of the bar in those states. Additionally, Dianna Cannon is a member of the bar in California. Don’t wait to contact Cannon Disability Law, because your monthly benefit doesn’t start until you apply. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you lose benefits. Call now.