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If you suffer from back pain and cannot work, then you may win Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Social Security Disability Insurance or SSI benefits.  If you have worked and paid taxes, then the SSA can pay you monthly benefits if you meet certain rules.

There are several conditions of the spine that can cause terrible back pain. Some of these conditions occur naturally with age, but others may be the result of an accident or another condition. Some examples of back problems include osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disorder, spinal arachnoiditis, and spondylitis. Many people experience pain from herniated discs, nerve root compression, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and spondylolisthesis.

While back issues can cause severe pain, the SSA makes it a challenge to get benefits for a back condition. In order to qualify for SSD or SSI benefits, you must have a severe back condition that will last for over 12 months.

Additionally, your medical records, including x-rays, MRIs, and the progress notes of your doctor, must show you suffer from spine damage and that is what is causing your pain. The most typical issue that causes pain is a herniated disc. Herniated discs can compress your nerves and cause sciatica. Sciatica is nerve pain down your legs. Usually, the pain is worse in one leg more than the other. Lumbar herniations can occur with spinal injury or can be due to arthritis.


At our law firm, we see clients with severe back conditions on a daily basis. For example, there is a large mining population in both Utah and Nevada. Often, our clients are miners who receive multiple back injuries during their years on the job. Learn more information about Utah SSD benefits. Also, you can learn more information about Nevada SSD benefits. Find out more here about how the SSA looks at pain in SSD cases.

Additionally, many people hurt themselves while working in the service industry. Thousands of people work for the hotels in Las Vegas and can be hurt on the job while lifting heavy items, like tables or cleaning supplies. Construction workers, truck drivers, and warehouse workers are also prone to back injury. Most people do not realize it, but even office workers who sit at a desk can suffer from severe back pain.

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association states that the cost of treating back pain has an enormous economic impact. Patients suffering from back conditions incur medical costs of about $240 billion per year in the United States alone. If you have severe back pain, then you are not alone.


Back conditions that cause pain are one of the most common injuries on the job. Obviously, it is also a condition that usually becomes worse over time. Therefore, it is important to document any back injury or back operation when you file for SSDI and SSI benefits. Applications should be filed online at Social Security’s website.

Prior to filing an application for benefits, have a list of your doctors and their locations. Also, have a list of all of your medications and their daily dosage. You will be asked a number of times throughout the Social Security appeal process to list your medications. If you have any side effects or symptoms, such as fatigue or brain fog, then make sure to include those symptoms in your SSA paperwork.

Our law firm can help you file for SSDI benefits. We have application experts who know the SSA’s questions and can help you file your application. Our lawyers and staff can help you whether you live in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, California, Colorado, or any state in the Intermountain West.


The most common type of back condition for which we see people filing for SSDI and SSI benefits is degenerative disc disease. There are four areas in your spine and the most common region for pain, arthritis and injury is the lumbar spine. The other three regions are the cervical spine, (which is the neck), the thoracic spine (the middle and upper back), and the sacral spine (the pelvic area).

Back pain from arthritis can be acute or it can turn into chronic back pain. Acute back pain is short term pain. It will last for a few days to a few weeks. Normally, if back pain is due to overuse, then the pain will go away after rest, icing and heating the muscles, and minimal treatment.

However, chronic back pain is pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer. Chronic back pain results in ongoing symptoms, such as muscle spasms, limited movement, sudden and sharp shooting pain, and numbness in your arms and legs.

If the pain is due to a herniated disc or a herniation is pressing on your nerves, then it might require surgery. The surgery can be a discectomy, laminectomy, or a fusion. Sometimes, your doctor will need to do a combination of these operations.


Back conditions can result from nerve injury, as well as bone issues, such as scoliosis and stenosis. Chronic back pain results in the following conditions:


  • Herniated Cervical Disc and Lumbar Disc – A herniated disc (also called bulged or slipped) occurs when a portion of the disc is pushed out of the annulus into the spinal canal through a tear in the annulus. The annulus is the strong wrap around the outside of the disc. Herniated discs usually occur because of arthritis in the spine. There is limited room in the spine, so the herniation presses on the spinal nerves, producing pain. Herniations are common in the low back, the lumbar spine and in the neck, the cervical spine. They are less common in the middle of your spine.
  • Spinal Cord and Nerve Compression – Spinal pain is caused by any condition that puts pressure on your spinal cord. One of the most common causes of spinal cord compression is osteoarthritis.  If you have spinal cord damage and nerve pain, then you will experience pain in your back. You will also experience a burning pain in your legs or arms and possibly in your feet.
  • Spondylosis – Spondylosis is a condition that may cause loss of normal spinal structure and function. Although aging is the primary cause, the location and rate of degeneration is individual. The degenerative spondylosis process may affect your neck, middle, or low back regions of the spine.
  • Sciatica – Sciatica is nerve pain caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. It runs from your hips and buttocks, on each side of the body, down your legs. When the sciatic nerve is injured, it hurts.


  • Spinal Infections – Spinal infections are bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that occur in your spine.
  • Spinal Stenosis – Spinal stenosis occurs when one or more bony openings in the spine start to narrow and reduce space for the nerves.
  • Scoliosis – Scoliosis occurs when there is a curvature of the spine. There can be more than one curvature, forming an S shape. The scoliosis can be mild or severe. The more severe the spinal curvature, the more likely it is that you will suffer from back pain.
  • Spinal Tumors – A spinal tumor is a growth that develops within your spinal canal. Spinal tumors are rare and are not normally cancerous. Malignant tumors can also occur in the spine, but they usually spread to the spine form somewhere else in the body.

In order to win benefits, you will first need to show that your back condition meets or equals SSA’s listing 1.15. If you need further information about SSA’s back listing 1.15, then read here.


In order to prove you cannot work due to back pain, your back condition must last longer than 12 months. When making the decision as to whether you will be paid benefits, the SSA will also look at any physical limits you have that affect your ability to work a full time job. Functional limits are physical limits. In other words, they are activities you aren’t able to do because of your back condition.

Your residual functional capacity (RFC) shows the limits you would have at work due to your back condition. The SSA will assume a certain RFC for you that is drawn from your medical records. Therefore, it is important to have your doctor, the doctor who is treating you for your back condition, also complete an RFC form for you. Our firm will send an RFC form to your treating doctor for him or her to complete. The medical opinion of spine doctor should be taken into account by the SSA.


When the SSA decides your (RFC), they also use your statements on the forms you fill out for them. For example, when you fill out your daily activity form, you will talk about the things you can do throughout the day. For example, the SSA will ask you about your hobbies. If you no longer do your hobbies, then say you don’t have any. If you write that you fish, golf, bowl, and love to water ski, then the SSA is going to believe that your back pain isn’t what is keeping you from working. In other words, if you play sports, you can probably work.

Also, you will fill out forms about your past work. On those forms you state how much you had to lift at work. You also tell them how much you sat or stood during a day at work.

Your answers on these forms are often some of the most important statements you make. If you state on your Work History form that you lifted nothing on the job, then that is what the SSA assumes is correct. Frankly, there are no jobs where you lift “nothing.” But for some reason, many people write that down as an answer. Even desk jobs require some lifting. You might, for example, lift files, boxes of paper, books, or supplies.

Think about it. Failing to tell the SSA about the lifting you had to do at your past jobs, makes it easier for them to return you to your past jobs. If you didn’t have to lift anything, then your back pain would not stop you from returning to your old job. In other words, you are making it easier for them to deny your case.


There are certain physical limits that require the SSA to pay you benefits if you have a severe back condition. However, it is important that your treating medical sources document your physical limits in your medical records. These physical limits include:

  • Being unable to walk for more than one block without needing to take a break
  • Needing to use a two canes or a walker in order to walk
  • Not being able to bend over or stoop down
  • Being unable to lift objects over ten pounds
  • Inability to sit or stand for at least two hours in an eight hour work day
  • Needing to elevate your legs above your heart throughout the eight hour work day
  • Due to pain, needing to lay down for most of the day
  • Being unable to sit down in a work chair for at least six hours during an eight hour workday

You can think of these limits as physical issues that would impact your ability to complete an eight hour workday. If you have even a few of the above limits, it may mean you cannot work. Find out more about winning benefits with your RFC. Unfortunately, your testimony about your limits only goes so far to prove that you cannot work. You will also need medical proof.  Additionally, you will need your own testimony to have the SSA grant you SSDI and SSI benefits.


When you apply for SSDI and SSI benefits, the SSA will first look to your medical records to determine if they can pay you benefits. Medical records are the only way to win benefits. Find out more about the importance of medical records in your SSD case.

The SSA obtains your medical records based on the information that you tell them. Next, an SSA worker reviews your medical records. The worker will be looking for evidence about your back condition. For example, the SSA will want to see the following items:

  • medical imaging, such as MRI, CT scan, or X-ray that shows your spine
  • physical exam notes or progress notes from your doctor that show pain, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion
  • a record of your medications for back pain and any side effects you may have from your medications
  • the medical opinion of an expert on back conditions, like a surgeon
  • physical therapy records that help show your attempts to reduce your back pain
  • records which show you use an assistive device, like a back brace, cane, walker, or wheelchair
  • reports of any back operations or other spinal condition

Remember, it is your responsibility to supply your medical records to the SSA. You should ask your treating doctor to write a letter to the SSA that states you cannot work due to your severe back pain. The burden to prove that you deserve benefits is on you.


If you hurt your back on the job, you will first file for Worker’s Compensation. You must report your injury to your employer. The rule that you must report your injury to your employer is the same in both Utah and Nevada. The goal if Worker’s Compensation is to pay you for time off work and also to reimburse you if you have a loss in function.  Most people recover from back injuries and can return to work. However, if you do not recover or if you have multiple back injuries, you may need to file for SSDI benefits through the SSA.

social security disability and back pain


You do not need to try to win SSD benefits for back pain by yourself. We can help file your SSD application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Try not to take that long to finish it. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back.


Once you are ready to apply for benefits, then you should hire an attorney. You will want to hire the firm who has the most experience in order to win your benefits. Also, you want to hire the SSDI lawyer who will support you during the application and appeal process. You should also look for a law firm who are experts in SSD & SSI benefits, like us. We want to be your legal team. The lawyers at our law firm have won over 20,000 SSD cases in the last 30 years.

Your legal team should also consist of your doctors who are experts in treating back conditions. Because, you may need back surgery. In that case, make sure you receive treatment from a surgeon who has an excellent reputation.

You may also have degenerative disc disease, which is arthritis of the spine. This can occur in the lumbar spine, thoracic spine, or the cervical spine. In that case, you should see a rheumatologist. You may also have a spinal injury from an accident. If so, then get an MRI and seek treatment.

This website contains a list of free and low cost doctors and clinics in both Utah and Nevada’s free and low cost services. If you are suffering from chronic back pain, get treatment and contact us today.


Contacting Cannon Disability Law is free and we do not charge an attorney fee unless we win your case. We are one of the best Social Security law firms in the country. For example, we are known as one of the best Social Security firms in Las Vegas, Nevada. We are also the best SSD law firm in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have won over $100 million in both ongoing and back benefits. Many of those SSDI and SSI cases have been for severe back conditions and chronic back pain.

The lawyers at our law firm are also members of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives. Learn more about Utah SSD benefits here. Nevada SSI and SSDI Information can also be found on this website. If you are from California, our website has California SSD information. However, we can represent you no matter where you live.

In order to fight the SSA’s denials, you need a law firm with experience. Hire us. Dianna Cannon has been helping people who need SSDI benefits for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have many years of legal experience. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI hearings. You can trust us. We will do everything we can to win your  benefits. Put our experience to work for you and win SSDI and SSI benefits for back pain.

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