Can I get Social Security Disability for a back or spine injury?
The Social Security Administration provides a listing of impairments that describes major diseases and impairments and their corresponding symptoms that the government considers automatically disabling. In order to qualify for a disability, these listed conditions must have lasted for at least 12 months and should be backed up by medical records reporting diagnosis and attempted treatment. Disability claimants who meet or exceed a listing are most likely to win their disability claim. If a claimant does not meet or equal or a listing they are still eligible, however proving they do not have the residual capacity to work can be much more difficult.
How will a back injury qualify for disability?The back or spine injury must cause a loss of function. The government defines loss of function as "the inability to [walk] effectively on a sustained basis for any reason, including pain associated with the underlying musculoskeletal impairment". This means an impairment that interferes very seriously with the claimants ability to independently initiate, sustain and complete daily activities due to lack of functioning of one's legs or lower extremities"...or the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively on a sustained basis for any reason, including pain associated with the underlying musculoskeletal impairment", which refers to the inability to perform functions such as reaching, pushing, pulling or grasping on a regular basis.
Any inabilities mentioned must have lasted, or be expected to last, for at least 12 months in order to meet the listing requirements. When determining if a claimant qualifies under this specific criterion, the inability to walk or perform fine and gross movements effectively will be based on the medical and other provided in the case record. In reference to pain and other symptoms, these must be proven to be functionally limiting by medical signs or laboratory findings showing the existence of a medically determined impairment. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the intensity and persistence of pain and other symptoms carefully in order to determine their impact on a claimants function under these listings.
What back injuries are included?The Social Security Adminitration considers certain disorders of the spine to be disabling. For example, a diagnosis of a herniated nucleus pulposus (herniated disk), spinal arachnoiditis (inflammation of membranes that surround and protect nerves of spinal cord), spinal stenosis (narrowing of the open spaces within spine), osteoarthritis (when protective cartilage on ends of bones wears down over time, most commonly in hands, knees, hips and spine), degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, or a vertebral fracture, resulting in compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord could qualify a claimant for benefits.
A claimant's back or spine injury must meet one of these three requirements.A. Evidence of nerve root compression (pinching of a nerve that is due to too much pressure) characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain (location of pain related to nerve endings), limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss, atrophy (gradual degeneration or decline in effectiveness) with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness, accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, a positive straight-leg raising test should be provided (sitting and supine or lying down);
B. 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 (or loss of sense of touch or numbness), resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours;
C. Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) resulting in pseudoclaudication (pain in lower extremities), established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic non-radicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to walk effectively.