Degenerative Disc Disease and Social Security Disability Claims
The diagnosis “degenerative disc disease” appears in the medical records of many applicants for Social Security disability insurance benefits and you may see it in your doctor’s notes.
As I discuss in this video, however, most of us experience, with age, a deterioration of the cushioning discs that separate our vertebrae and support our spines. In your Social Security disability claim, a diagnosis is much less important than what your doctor says about how damage to your spine impacts your capacity to perform work activities.
If you experience loss of nerve conduction due to impingement on your spinal cord, you may have pain and numbness in your arms or legs, and therefore loss of function. Severe degenerative disc disease might make you eligible for disability benefits under Listing 1.00, or under one of the grid rules. If you back issues are significant but not totally disabling your back problems in combination with another impairment like diabetes or a mental health issue, could be enough to leave you with the capacity to function at a job.
Whatever the level of your degenerative disc impairment, you will need support from your doctors in the form of a functional capacity evaluation or a narrative report to help convince your judge that you qualify for SSDI disability or SSI.