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Spinal arachnoiditis is a painful condition that occurs from inflammation of the arachnoid membrane. This membrane surrounds the spinal cord nerves. It can become inflamed from various causes such as back surgery and infections. Additionally, inflammation can be caused by herniated discs, nerve damage, or spinal injuries.

Most cases of arachnoiditis occur in the lumbar spine and cause chronic pain in the lower back and legs. Additional symptoms include numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, loss of bladder or bowel control, and sexual dysfunction. It can also cause difficulty sitting and standing for more than a short time.

Spinal arachnoiditis is a rare condition. Studies show that it affects a small percentage of the population. For example, it usually affects 1 in 100,000 individuals. However, it is important to understand that the low number of people who report condition might be due to the fact that it is difficult to diagnose. Additionally, many people do not have access to health insurance or a doctor and so those cases go unreported.

Spinal arachnoiditis is not curable. Therefore, patients usually have to manage their symptoms with medication. Many people with the disorder have physical limitations and pain despite treatment. If you cannot work for over one year due to spinal arachnoiditis, then you may qualify for SSD benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

spinal arachnoiditis - 3d rendered medical illustration of the lumbar spine - lower back pain.


Spinal arachnoiditis can lead to a variety of symptoms including:

  1. Chronic Pain: Severe pain in the lower back, legs, or feet is a common symptom of spinal arachnoiditis. The pain may be sharp, shooting, or burning in nature.
  2. Numbness or Tingling: Some people may feel a pins and needles sensation in their legs or feet. This is due to the irritation of nerves in the spinal cord.
  3. Muscle Weakness: Weakness or difficulty moving the legs or feet can occur. This weakness impacts mobility.
  4. Abnormal Sensations: You may experience sensations such as electric shock sensations on your skin.
  5. Bladder or Bowel Dysfunction: Spinal arachnoiditis can lead to problems with bladder or bowel control, including urinary urgency, frequency, or incontinence.
  6. Sexual Dysfunction: Some people may experience sexual dysfunction.
  7. Limited Mobility: It can give you problems when you bend or straighten the spine.
  8. Radicular Pain: Pain that spreads from the lower back down the legs, often following the path of the  nerves, is common.
  9. Problems Walking: As the condition gets worse you may have problems walking. Therefore, you may need an assistive device, such as a cane or walker.

It is important to note that the symptoms of spinal arachnoiditis vary from person to person. Not all people will experience every symptom.


Spinal arachnoiditis is an extremely painful medical condition for which there is no cure. However, there are treatment options and they are below:

  1. Pain Management: Controlling pain is a primary goal of treatment. This may involve a combination of medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs , opioids, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants.
  2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help improve strength and mobility. Therapy includes exercises, stretches, and techniques to improve posture and relieve pressure on the spine.
  3. Nerve Blocks: In some cases, nerve blocks or epidural steroid injections may help your pain.
  4. Spinal Cord Stimulator: For chronic pain that does not respond to other treatments, placement of a spinal cord stimulator may work. This involves implanting a device near the spinal cord to deliver electrical impulses that interfere with pain signals.
  5. Surgery: In rare cases surgery may be considered. However, surgery for arachnoiditis is controversial and not always successful. Usually, surgery aims to decompress the spinal cord or remove scar tissue. Learn more pain from herniated and bulging discs.


Qualifying for SSD benefits means you have a severe medical condition that prevents you from working at any job in the national economy. The symptoms of spinal archnoiditis can be so severe that they prevent you from working. The SSA uses a five step review process to determine if they can pay you benefits.

If you are off work for over one year, then there are two types of Social Security benefits you can file for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can file an application online at the Social Security’s website for either one or both. Below, you can find an explanation as to each type of benefit:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who can no longer work due to a severe medical condition. The amount of money you receive from SSDI benefits is based on the taxes you paid during your working years. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify.

A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need depends on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits at the time you apply, then you will only be able to file for SSI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for only those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those who live with you, such as a spouse, not just your income and assets.

If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. The same rule applies if you are living with a girlfriend and she is paying your bills. Also, the same rule applies if you are living with your common law wife and she is paying your bills. You cannot get SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.


To secure SSD benefits for spinal arachnoiditis, you must have the medical evidence the SSA requires. When you file your application for SSD benefits, the SSA will request your medical records. Those records serve as the cornerstone of your SSD case. The SSA is looking for objective medical evidence that confirms the presence of spinal arachnoiditis in your records.

Objective evidence includes:

  • Operative notes and progress notes.
  • Reports or imaging tests such as MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans.

This evidence should show nerve root thickening and swelling leading to a diagnosis of spinal arachnoiditis. For cases of adhesive arachnoiditis, evidence should demonstrate nerve root clumping.

Additionally, your medical records should feature a physical exam that documents:

  • Abnormal test results.
  • Range of motion.
  • Ability to lift weight.
  • Functional abilities like walking, sitting, standing.
  • The need to lie down due to pain.

The SSA also considers the treatments you have tried. For example, they will look at your medications, physical therapy, or any other treatments given to you by your doctor. Additionally, the SSA can review written statements from your family and friends about your symptoms.


Social Security’s “Blue Book” describes medical conditions that they consider to be disabilities. Qualifying for SSD benefits under a listing means you either “meet” or “equal” a listing.

Spinal arachnoiditis previously had its own listing in Social Security’s Blue Book. But the SSA removed that listing in 2021. Now, the SSA uses listing 11.08 for spinal cord disorders. You can meet listing 11.08 for spinal arachnoiditis.

Listing 11.08 Spinal cord disorders with A, B, or C:

A. Complete loss of function that persists for 3 consecutive months after the disorder.


B. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities persisting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder.


C. Marked limitation in physical functioning and in one of the following areas of mental functioning, both persisting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder:

  1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
  2. Interacting with others; or
  3. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
  4. Adapting or managing oneself.


If you have spinal arachnoiditis, but your symptoms don’t meet listing 11.08, then you might qualify for SSD benefits using your RFC. Your RFC is a set of restrictions that describes what you can and can’t do in a work setting. You can win benefits, if you can prove your RFC limits your ability to work at your past job and any other jobs.

Social Security will review your work history to see if you can perform your past jobs, despite the physical limits of your RFC. If you cannot perform your past work, then the SSA will decide whether you can perform a less difficult job.

The RFC is what is “found” at step four of the Social Security review process. Once the case moves to a hearing, it is the judge who will determine your RFC. You can win benefits by showing you cannot sustain 40 hours of work every week. Find out more about what questions the judge will ask at your Social Security hearing.

In order for the ALJ’s RFC assessment to comply with SSA’s rules, the judge must include a narrative discussion in the decision. The ALJ must describe how the medical evidence supports each conclusion. Also, it must cite specific medical facts.

The ALJ must discuss how the medical evidence supports your ability to perform work activities in a work setting. If you cannot sustain a 40 hour work week without the need to lie down, then you cannot work. Likewise, if you cannot remain seated for six hours during an eight hour workday, then you cannot perform a seated job. Every physical limit you have from spinal arachnoiditis should be in your medical records. If the medical records shows you cannot work, then you will win benefits.


You do not need to try to win SSD benefits 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 to finish it quickly. 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.


It isn’t easy to get Social Security benefits and the application process can be frustrating for most people. But, having an attorney during the appeal process can make it easier. It is our belief that when you have a law firm with experience handling your Social Security case, the SSA makes sure that they follow their own procedures.

Additionally, when you have an attorney with legal experience, they will have access to Social Security’s decisions throughout the process. They can also submit medical evidence that may be missing from your case.

There is evidence that hiring an attorney with the proper experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%. It is also smart to hire an attorney to help you at your hearing. After all, you are the star witness at your hearing. If you hire an attorney with experience, then they can prepare you to testify at your hearing. Learn more about how to prepare for your SSD hearing.


We will use our legal skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to win your benefits for spinal arachnoiditis. But, it also our goal to make the appeal process easier for you.

We offer a free review of your case. If you call, there is no pressure to become our client. You ask questions, we answer. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.

It also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. If we win, then the SSA pays us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, then you do not pay an attorney fee.

How much is the attorney fee? The attorney fee is whatever is less between 25% of your back benefit and the fee cap. This is best understood through an example. If your back benefit is $10,000, then your attorney fee would be $2500. However, if your back benefit is $100,000, you would not pay 25% or $25,000 in attorney fees. Instead, you would pay the amount of the fee cap, which is $7200. Therefore, if you win your case, then your fee is capped at the $7200 amount.

Regardless, you pay whatever is less between 25% of your back benefit and the fee cap. Additionally, you only owe an attorney fee if we win your case. Find out more here about what it will cost to hire our SSD law firm.


We have won over $100 million in future and past due SSD benefits for our clients. You can only be paid SSD benefits after years of hard work and paying your taxes.

Therefore, SSD benefits are not welfare. When you work and pay taxes, the SSA puts aside benefits for you. They do this in case you experience a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working.

Your benefits are tied to the day you apply. SSD benefits have a six month waiting period before benefits begin to pay. The six month waiting period applies to everyone. And, it doesn’t start until you file your SSD application. SSI benefits, on the other hand, don’t begin until the date of your application.

Past due SSD benefits can pay out one year prior to the date of application. You can receive past due benefits, as long as you were not working due to your medical condition. However, if you file for SSI benefits, then SSI benefits begin on the day you apply. This is true even if your severe medical condition began prior to that date. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you are losing SSDI and SSI benefits.

We know you need benefits to replace your income. Over the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases. We want to win your case too. Contact us today for your free review of your case. Let us help you win SSDI and SSI benefits for spinal arachnoiditis.

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