Back pain is an incredibly common condition, with as many as 80% of all people expected to experience back pain at some point in their lifetimes, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Additionally, the ACA notes that back pain accounts for over 265 million lost hours of work every year. It is one of the top reasons people miss work, and it is the single leading cause of disability. All this to say, if you’re currently experiencing debilitating back pain or have been unable to work in the past due to back pain, you’re not alone!
But, do you qualify for disability for your back pain? And, if you do, how do you actually get your Social Security disability benefits?
What Is “Medically Determinable” Back Pain?
The first thing you need to know about qualifying for disability based on back pain is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not typically grant benefits to those with mild, moderate, or intermittent back pain. Despite the fact that the SSA receives millions of applications for back pain—more applications for any other type of illness or injury, in fact—it only grants benefits to individuals with “medically determinable” back impairments. This means that, in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you’ll need to show that you have an impairment that can be detected and affirmed by a medical professional.
The Social Security Administration has a section on “Disorders of the Spine” in its Listing of Impairments, which is typically used to determine whether back pain is compensable.
In order to be considered a “disability,” your back pain must involve, among others, one of the following:
- Herniated discs
- Compressed nerves
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Radiating spinal pain
Even if you can show that you have a medically determinable back impairment, you will still be required to meet the SSA’s stringent requirements for your particular impairment in order to collect disability benefits.
For example, according to the SSA, your condition must cause:
- Nerve root compression/pain
- Loss of sensation/reflexes
- Limited movement of the spine
- Motor loss/muscle weakness
- Difficulty walking
- Chronic pain associated with compression of the lumbar spine
This list is not exhaustive; you may be required to meet additional criteria in order to qualify for disability for your back pain or spinal condition.
Why You Should Talk to a Disability Attorney
Back pain can be incredibly debilitating and may even prevent you from being able to earn a living to support yourself and your family. However, in order to qualify for Social Security disability, you’ll need to meet the Social Security Administration’s strict standards. Because the SSA receives so many disability applications for back pain, however, it may deny your claim even if you do have a medically determinable condition.
It’s important that you work with an experienced Social Security disability attorney, like those at Coats & Todd, to make sure that your claim is not wrongfully denied. An attorney can also help you appeal your denied claim if you believe that there was an error. We encourage you to reach out to our firm today to learn more about how our attorneys can assist you in seeking disability for back pain or any compensable injury, illness, or condition.
If you have questions about your eligibility to receive disability for your back pain or related condition, contact Coats & Todd for a free case evaluation.