Back pain affects millions of Americans. In fact, the ACA notes that as much as 80% of the population will suffer back pain during their lifetime. However, Social Security Disability benefits for back pain require individuals to have “medically determinable” impairments. This puts a high burden of proof on individuals seeking Social Security disability for back pain.
Individuals whose back pain renders them unable to work full time qualify for social security disability benefits. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives more disability applications for back pain than any other ailment. As a result, getting approved for disability benefits for back pain typically requires evidence from multiple sources.
Unfortunately, objective medical findings can’t always demonstrate the full extent of pain and movement limitations. CT scans of a ruptured or herniated disc can serve as clear evidence of chronic pain. Similarly, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and other medical conditions with clear physical symptoms make it far easier to prove an inability to work.
But back pain doesn’t always have such an easily identifiable cause. Even without a scan showing an obvious physical ailment, a disability attorney can help you receive the benefits you need. To receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disorders of the spine, evidence of nerve root compression requires the lowest burden of proof. Still, the claimant’s records must show:
Limited motion of the spine
Motor loss with sensory or reflex loss
And, for lower back issues, positive straight-leg raising test for both sitting and supine positions
That the symptoms have lasted or are expected to last a minimum of 12 months
Records from surgeries that failed to solve the problem or physical therapy records can be useful in these cases. It’s also important to note any prescribed pain medications as well as their side effects. Patient statements will not carry much weight with the SSA. So it’s best to provide medical reports with object observations from a patient’s examination.
If at all possible, you should include imaging documents to support your claim. These can include x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, lumbar myelograms, and bone scans. Nerve conductions studies can also be useful. But it’s important to remember that x-rays will not show soft tissue damage.
Because of this, even legitimate disability claims are often denied. If your application was denied by Social Security in Chattanooga, we can help. If back pain limits your ability to work and earn a living, contact us today for a free evaluation. We’ll review your case and help you understand what evidence you’ll need to receive the benefits you deserve.
Chronic back pain can dramatically reduce your quality of life. In addition to restricting your professional capabilities, it can creep into all aspects of your personal life as well. At McCarthy, Murphy & Preslar, we do everything we can to help our clients improve their quality of life. We’ll work to win your case and get you the assistance that’s rightfully yours.
The Social Security Administration’s Blue Book – The official requirements necessary to qualify for disability benefits for back pain.
Spine-Health.com – A website dedicated to providing information about a wide variety of back pains including potential causes.
The American College of Rheumatology – Provides educational information about a variety of rheumatic diseases and conditions