Disability Benefits For Degenerative Disc Disease
Social Security Disability Lawyers: Riverside, Orange;& San Bernardino Counties
Social Security awards for long-term disability benefits are paid to back pain claimants more often than for any other reason. It is estimated that up to 25% of disability awards are for back problems. That’s because having back pain can disable you from doing even a desk job, and x-rays or MRI scans of a bad back can prove to Social Security that your pain is real.;Disability Benefits for Back Pain or DDD
There are many different causes of back pain, but the main three things are: bad discs, arthritis, and pinched nerves.;By;bad discs;we mean degenerated, bulging, or ruptured discs that cause pain and inflammation in the back.;Arthritis;in the back refers to bone spurs and wear and tear of the facet joints. ;Pinched nerves;are when discs and bone spurs press on nerves or the spinal cord , causing pain, numbness, or tingling down one or both legs .;Having one or more of these conditions can cause chronic and disabling back pain, and they can be documented by x-rays and MRI’s of your back to help prove to Social Security that you have an objective basis for your back pain and disability.;Ten Tips to Help You Get Disability Benefits;If you suffer from chronic back pain and are unable to work, the following ten tips or guidelines will help you get Social Security disability benefits.;1.);;;;;;;;Get a Diagnosis
2.);;;;;;;;Objective Evidence More than Mild
3.);;;;;;;;Document Your Back Pain
How The Va Decides Disability Ratings For Degenerative Disc Disease
The VA classifies degenerative disc disease as a musculoskeletal disorder of the spine. Back injuries are a common complaint after military service. Unfortunately, spinal injuries tend to receive low disability ratings despite the fact that they can be quite debilitating. It is very important to provide the VA with solid evidence to support your claim for disability benefits.;
To receive VA disability benefits for degenerative disc disease, you must be able to prove that it is a service-connected condition or one that was aggravated by your time in the military. Degenerative disc disease may also qualify as a secondary service-connected disability or one that developed as a result of a service-connected injury. The VA rates a secondary condition separately.;
The general ratings formula for spine conditions is primarily based on a range of motion. A physician must test your ability to move using a goniometer.;
The rating criteria also evaluate whether the cervical or thoracolumbar regions are frozen in a favorable or unfavorable position. A favorable position means that the spine is frozen in flexion or extension at 0 degrees. Any other position is considered unfavorable.;
A VA examiner will then assign a rating based on the doctors assessment and any other evidence that you supply in your application.
About Citizens Disability Llc:
Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been Americas premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at 492-3260.
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Additionally You May Be Eligible For Social Security Disability Benefits If You Have Another Impairment; For Example Arthritis
Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. However, if an applicant has multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit an applicants ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks.
Fibromyalgia And Degenerative Disc Disease
Another condition that might be found alongside degenerative disc disease is Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can lead to a loss in muscle strength. This lack of strength in the muscles surrounding the spine can play a part in causing degenerative disc disease.
It is hard to qualify for disability benefits with fibromyalgia alone. Diagnosing fibromyalgia is difficult because there are no definitive tests to use as evidence. The diagnosis process generally involves a doctor ruling out other conditions and leaving just fibromyalgia. If you are applying for disability benefits with fibromyalgia, you should make sure that you have been checked for degenerative disc disease first. ;
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Tip : Stick With One Doctor
Try to be seen by the same physician on an ongoing basis. By doing this, you can hopefully develop a relationship with a doctor who, in turn, may be more attentive and responsive to your condition.
The simple truth is, most doctors see an incredible number of patients and, as human nature would dictate, tend to be more responsive to the ones they are more familiar with. By seeing one physician more frequently, as opposed to several physicians infrequently, you may end up with better records as well as a more sympathetic doctor. And the advantage to this may be realized when the time comes to ask your doctor for a statement supporting your disability case. I have personally spoken with dozens of physicians who said they were unable to complete a statement supporting a claimant’s Social Security case because they had not seen the claimant enough times, or any time recently.
B Chad Browns Explanation Of Social Securitys Rules
For you to meet the listing and thereby qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your degenerative disc disease must be causing compression of a nerve root or the spinal cord as the result of wear and tear over time or an injury. This nerve or spinal cord compression causes:
A. Serious pain, limitation of movement of the spine, loss of movement and control of extremities with muscle weakness causing muscle loss, along with a loss of feeling or reflexes. If the lower back is involved, a positive result to the straight-leg raising test while sitting and lying down is present.
B. Spinal arachnoiditis , confirmed by operative notes or a pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by imaging, that includes severe burning or painful to light touching, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours;
C. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in painful muscle spasms, confirmed by imaging, with chronic radiating pain and weakness, and resulting in an inability to move around effectively, as defined in 1.00B2b.
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Social Security Will Want To See The Following Medical Evidence:
- ;;Results of a spinal examination that tests range of motion, strength and sensations;
- ;;Tests specific to the cervical nerve root affected, such as a Spurling test ;
- ;;Medical imaging such as MRIs, x-rays, and CT scans showing compromise of a cervical nerve root.
- ;;Records of treatments received, including how long treatments lasted and results of treatments.
Employment And Disability Rights For Back Pain
Many people worry about losing their jobs when they take sick leave. As a general rule, employers can fire anyone as long as they give proper notice. But, they cant let you go for a discriminatory reason.
Most employers wont fire workers on sick leave. Under Canadas human rights laws, employers must help employees if their medical condition affects their work. Allowing sick leave is a reasonable accommodation that employers should give.
To take sick leave, youll need to give your employer a doctors note. The note should confirm that you cant work and need time off. If you need to stay off for a longer time, youll need to regularly provide these notes. Usually, you can submit them every three to six months to show that youre still unable to work.
If you apply for disability benefits and get denied, you can stay on sick leave while you appeal. Most employers wont question this as long as you continue to provide doctors notes.
If your employer tries to fire you while on sick leave, you may have legal rights to severance pay. You can even have the termination overturned if it was because of your condition. These situations are complicated, however. You should always get legal advice.
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What Does Social Security Look For In Degenerative Disc Disease Cases
When a disability examiner opens a newly assigned disability application and sees either degenerative disc disease, back pain, lumbar problems, degenerative joint disease, or the acronym DJD , the examiner begins to look for the following evidence :
- physician treatment notes indicating one of these diagnoses, and
- objective evidence of disc deterioration, such as x-ray reports, CAT scans, and MRI studies.
Preferably, a disability examiner wants to see clinical evidence of:
If your DDD has advanced enough to cause one of these conditions, visit the above links to learn about the criteria needed to meet Social Security’s listing for that condition.
If you don’t have one of the listed conditions above, Social Security will look at your functional limitations . Social Security will create a residual functional capacity, or “RFC,” form for you that lists the restrictions that your doctors have included in their notes.) For more information on this process, see our article on how Social Security assesses RFCs for back problems).
Whether you meet one of the above listings above or will need to rely on your RFC, your disability examiner will want to see that your back problem severely affects your ability to function, such as by limiting:
- your ability to walk effectively
- the range of motion in your spine, or
- the time you can sit or stand with changing your position or posture to less than two hours.
Whats The Va Disability Rating For Degenerative Disc Disease
The rating for degenerative disc disease is usually 20%, independently of how severe your condition may be.
The VA provides benefits for qualifying Veterans with degenerative disc disease, and these benefits can make life much more manageable for people living with the disability. If a Veteran with DDD qualifies to receive disability benefits, this means they will get monthly compensation based on the severity of their condition. However, the path to obtaining these benefits can be filled with obstacles. Many Veterans struggle to get the disability benefits that they need and deserve for degenerative disc disease. If you are struggling to obtain a fair VA disability rating for degenerative disc disease, Berry Law Firm can help.
For more than 50 years, our attorneys have helped Veterans secure the VA disability benefits they deserve. Many lawyers who are long-term members of our team are Veterans themselves, having served in multiple branches of the military. As a team of Veterans helping Veterans, we are committed to helping you get the disability benefits that you need and deserve, whatever it takes.
Call our office or contact us online to arrange a free consultation today.;;
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Degenerative Disc Disease And Social Security Disability
You may be;eligible for Social Security disability payments if you can no longer work due to degenerative disc disease.;To be able to qualify, your condition must meet the;Social Security Blue Book listings specific criteria.;
If an individual;has worked enough to earn;a minimum number of credits;and paid Social Security the required amount of taxes,;Social Security Disability Insurance may pay;benefits to;them and certain family dependents.;However,;you;must have been out of work at least six months before applying.;During the application process, the Social Security Administration will collect a lot of information pertaining to your;illness or injury,;leaning heavily on medical records and doctors statements to determine whether you qualify as disabled.;
How Do I Prove My Degenerative Disc Disease As A Disability
Degenerative disc disease can be a challenging condition to prove as disabling to insurance companies. While the debilitating pain of degenerative disc disease is very real, pain is considered a subjective symptom. Your insurance company will want objective medical evidence to back up your disability claim.
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Treatment For Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
Specific treatment for lumbar disk disease will be determined by your;health care provider;based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
Typically, conservative therapy is the first line of treatment to manage lumbar disk disease. This may include a combination of the following:
- Bed rest
- Patient education on proper body mechanics
- Physical therapy, which may include ultrasound, massage, conditioning, and exercise programs
- Weight control
- Use of a lumbosacral back support
How To Get Disability For Back Pain
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 . 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?
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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 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
- 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.
Does Degenerative Disc Disease Qualify For Disability Benefits
Degenerative disc disease; describes the natural breakdown of an;intervertebral disc;of the;spine. Disc degeneration is often the effect of natural daily stresses and minor injuries that cause spinal discs to gradually lose water as the;anulus fibrosus, or the rigid outer shell of a disc, weakens. As discs weaken and lose water, they begin to collapse. This can result in pressure being put on the nerves in the spinal column, causing pain and weakness. DDD can cause acute or chronic low back or neck pain as well as nerve pain depending on the location of the affected disc and the amount of pressure it places on the surrounding nerve roots.
DDD can greatly affect;quality of life. Disc degeneration is a disease of micro/macro trauma and of aging, and though for most people is not a problem, in certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe chronic pain if left untreated.
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Qualifying For Disability Due To Back Problems
If your back condition, as described in your treating doctor’s reports, matches an “impairment listing” in the SSA’s “blue book” of impairments, you will automatically be approved for disability benefits. This is not easy to do; only very severe and well documented cases of back pain will match the SSA’s listing for disorders of the spine. Your condition can also be considered to be equivalent to the listing for disorders of the spine, if it doesn’t match a listing exactly but it is similar and has the same level of severity. The SSA will decide with the help of a medical consultant whether your back condition is equivalent to the spinal disorders impairment listing.
There are three main categories of back problems that can qualify for disability under the SSA’s official impairment listing for disorders of the spine. The SSA specifies the symptoms and severity required to match each of these listings. Specifically, to match the listing for disorders of the spine , the SSA requires that your spinal disorder includes one of the following three conditions:
- nerve root compression
- arachnoiditis, or
The SSA notes several examples of back conditions that involve nerve root or spinal cord compression, which can cause problems from mild chronic pain to paraplegia in the worst cases:
- herniated disc
- facet arthritis, and
- vertebral fracture.
Can You Get Disability For A Bad Back
While back pain is the main symptom of degenerative disk disease, the location of the pain may vary depending on where the impaired disc is. The pain may reach the neck, lower back, buttocks, or even thighs. It may come and go, and feel worse when you bend, twist, or sit. In more severe cases, the damage may affect surrounding nerves, causing weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms and legs.
Is degenerative disc disease disabling you? The Social Security Administration uses a 5-step process to decide if you are disabled.
Step 1. Do you have a Substantial Gainful Activity?
First, the SSA considers your work activity. If you are engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity you will not be found disabled. The amount you must earn to be working at SGA changes each year. For 2018 it is $1,180 per month if you are not blind and $1,970 per month if you are blind. If you are working, and your earnings average more than the SGA limit, then you will not be found disabled. If you are not working, or your earnings are less than SGA, the process proceeds to Step 2 where your degenerative disk disease and any other physical or mental conditions are considered.
Step 2. Can your medical condition be considered severe?
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