Additionally If You Have Other Medical Conditions Social Security Must Consider How Those Health Issues Combined Together Limit Your Ability To Hold A Job And Perform Necessary Daily Tasks
Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Securitys Blue Book. However, if you have multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit your ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks.
Please Answer A Few Questions To Help Us Determine Your Eligibility
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the space in the spinal canal. Stenosis can occur in both the cervical and/or lumbar regions of the spine. The narrowing can lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves, which, in turn, can lead to:
- muscle weakness in the arms or legs
- loss of deep tendon reflexes , and
- numbness and pain in the back, buttocks, and legs.
Spinal stenosis often occurs as the result of another back problem, such as degenerative disc disease, nerve root compression from osteoarthritis, herniated discs, or scoliosis. Spinal stenosis can be caused by natural aging or by a spinal injury causing nerve compression.
Many patients who suffer from stenosis are unable to work because of pain in their back and legs and their inability to walk without assistance or stand for prolonged periods of time. Fortunately, lumbar spinal stenosis is one of the few back conditions recognized by the Social Security Administration with an official impairment listing, meaning that those with documented cases of severe lumbar spinal stenosis are automatically granted disability benefitsif you can meet the SSA’s tough requirements.
Can I Get Long
It depends. If you have severe spinal stenosis and you cannot work, you may be eligible for long-term disability benefits. However, youll need to understand how your insurance policy defines disability. You should request a copy of your Summary Plan Description or Plan Document and look for one of two common definitions:
- Own occupation: you are eligible for benefits if you cannot perform your actual job.
- Any occupation: youll have to convince the insurance company that you cannot perform any type of work.
Once you understand your policys requirements, you can evaluate the strength of your LTD claim by assessing the severity of your spinal stenosis, your work history, and your doctor-assigned limitations. This information and supporting evidence, like your medical records, will be the foundation of your LTD claim.
Notably, some policies start with the own occupation standard and then convert to the more rigorous any occupation one after a period of time. If you need help understanding your policys terms and conditions, schedule a consultation with one of our disability insurance lawyers.
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Back Conditions That May Qualify For Social Security Disability
Given the important role of the spine in providing structure, flexibility, and movement throughout the entire body, certain back conditions can have a tremendous impact on your ability to work. In fact, the Social Security Administration receives more SSDI/SSI applications based upon back problems than any other disabling medical condition. For many individuals filing claims, the process is relatively straightforward because they meet an item in the SSAs Blue Book, i.e., the Listing of Impairments affecting the Musculoskeletal System.
However, many applicants will encounter substantial challenges in obtaining SSDI/SSI benefits when trying to show that their back condition equals a Blue Book listing. For this reason, it is best to retain a to assist with the claims process and ensure your application contains the essential details. You may also find it helpful to review the primary back conditions that may qualify you for disability benefits.
- One or more fractured vertebrae
- Degenerative joint disease or
Contact Social Security Disability Attorney Nancy L Cavey Who Can Help You Regardless Of Where You Live In Florida
Neck pain or a cervical spine disorder can make it difficult if not impossible to work. You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today! Nancy Cavey can explain the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation process used in every claim, the claims process and how to get your disability benefits. Call today for a free consultation at 727-894-3188.
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Other Rules To Know When Applying For Disability With Spinal Stenosis
Before filing your SSD application, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- You cannot qualify for Social Security disability if you havent worked in the past five years. Thats because your payroll taxes go towards paying your federal disability insurance premiums every month. Once you stop paying those for 60 months in a row, the government stops your coverage.
- Your spinal stenosis symptoms must prevent you from working at least 12 months in a row. If you need spinal surgery but expect to start working again in less than a year, you wont qualify.
- If youre already drawing any Social Security benefits, the government automatically denies your claim. Thats because SSD is essentially an early Social Security withdrawal program for people with serious health issues. If youre 62 years old and drawing early retirement, for example, then you cannot qualify for SSD payments.
How Is A Cervical Disc Herniated And Replaced
The surgery will fuse the cervical vertebrae in place so the vertebrae do not shift out of place and press on the nerves again. The cervical disc that has been flattened or herniated is replaced with an artificial implant or bone from the pelvis. Please see our article: Cervical artificial disc replacement complications.
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The Cost Of Treating Neck Pain
Any medical condition can be expensive to treat and neck pain is no exception. Medscape reports that about 9% of all medical costs are related to treating spine problems, which totals about $86 billion per year. The individuals cost is dependent upon the condition and its severity. For the individual with health insurance, there are co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance for doctor visits, prescriptions, therapy, and procedures including surgery in some cases.
On average, an individual with chronic severe neck pain can be expected to spend about $3,500 per year on treatment and therapy. There are some instances where the cost may be more, of course. You may qualify for Medicaid if your financial situation meets your state guidelines.
What Exactly Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the spinal canal to narrow, which compresses the spinal cord and nerves. The narrowing occurs in the lower part of the back . The most common cause of lumbar spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease, which occurs while aging.
The most common symptoms experienced with LSS are pain and numbness in the lower back and legs, which worsens when walking. Some people also experience weakness in the legs as well. For many people with LSS, the symptoms come and go.
Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis depends on its severity. Physical therapy, lumbar traction, chiropractic adjustments, anti-inflammatory medications, and steroid injections are some of the nonsurgical options. Surgeries such as a laminectomy or a spinal fusion may also be considered.
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What Is Spinal Stenosis Disability
The condition is a narrowing of the spinal canal. This is usually due to spine and disc degeneration that occurs with aging. It can also be caused by injury, trauma, osteoporosis, or in rare cases, tumors.
The narrowing commonly occurs in the cervical spine or the lumbar spine . Sometimes both areas are affected. The spinal cord and spinal nerves become compressed, or squeezed, causing inflammation of the nerves.
Cervical spinal stenosis results in pain, numbness and weakness in the arms, shoulders, and legs, and victims often suffer from balance issues and disturbance in their gait.
Lumbar spinal stenosis results in low back pain, as well as weakness, numbness, pain and abnormal sensations in the buttocks, thighs, legs, calves, and feet. Trouble walking, and loss of bowel or bladder control may also result. A very common impairment caused by this nerve compression is sciatica. This occurs when there is pressure on the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower spine down the back of each leg.
How The Blue Book Can Help With Spinal Stenosis Ssd Claim
The Social Security Administration has the responsibility of determining which individuals should be awarded disability benefits. With such a wide number of illnesses and injuries that could potentially keep someone out of work, this is not a simple task.
The SSA created a medical guide called the Blue Book to help standardize the way in which disability benefits are doled out.
The Blue Book, also referred to as the Listing of Impairments, contains various physical and mental conditions that might qualify an individual for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Some Conditions Causing Impairment Commonly Assessed Using Table 4
These include but are not limited to:
- spinal cord injury
- herniated or ruptured spinal disc
- spinal cord tumours
- arthritis or osteoporosis involving the spine.
Example: A 50 year old woman has been diagnosed with spondylosis and spinal cord tumour in her lumbar spine. Both these conditions result in functional impairment when the woman performs activities involving her spine. The woman takes regular medication to alleviate her symptoms but even with medication she continues to experience significant pain when undertaking daily activities. Her specialist has recommended spinal surgery but due to the high risks involved in this procedure the woman has decided not to undertake the surgery. This woman is unable to bend forward to pick up a light object such as a cup of coffee, placed at knee height without experiencing significant pain in her lower back. While she can remain seated for more than 30 minutes, she cannot sit for extended periods, such as a long car journey without a break to stand and move around to relieve the pressure on her lower spine.
The conditions are considered fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised. As both conditions cause the same functional impact a single impairment rating is given under Table 4, of 10 points, due to the moderate overall functional impact these conditions have on her ability to function. Under the 10-point descriptor the woman would meet .
What Can I Expect
There is a range of symptoms that you might experience when you have lumbar spinal stenosis, and they all might affect your ability to work differently.
Lumbar spinal stenosis can be found in the Musculoskeletal system section of the Social Security Administrations Blue Book. This manual lists a variety of conditions, as well as the requirements needed to qualify for benefits under these conditions.
According to the Blue Book, here are some signs that your lumbar spinal stenosis might help you qualify for disability benefits:
Lumbar spinal stenosis sometimes causes pseudo claudication, which is pain in your legs caused by compression of your nerve roots. If you experience pseudo claudication that makes it difficult to walk or move around, you will be considered for benefits from the SSA.
Chronic pain, numbness, or weakness in your legs could make tasks like walking or driving very difficult. You may need to use a cane, walker, or wheelchair to get around. Some people require assistance getting in or out of a car. If you have difficulty with mobility issues, you may be eligible for financial aid.
If you require surgery as a result of lumbar spinal stenosis, and you have difficulty recovering from surgery or worsening symptoms after surgery, you may qualify for disability benefits.
If your doctor puts you on medications for lumbar spinal stenosis, you may experience some side effects that may affect your quality of life.
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What Your Medical Records Should Include
When you apply, notes from a detailed physical exam with your doctor should be in your medical records, including the results of testing your reflexes and muscle strength. Your doctor should also note any limitations you have, such as whether you need a walker, cane, or other “assistive device” and how long you can sit without changing position.
These limitations and functional restrictions will be helpful when Social Security assesses your residual functional capacity . If you are able to walk and get around without the assistance of assistive devices or people, you won’t qualify for benefits automatically under the above listing, but Social Security will give you an RFC and use it to determine if there are any jobs you can do. Similarly, if you have cervical stenosis, Social Security will not use the above listing, but will instead evaluate your RFC.
Your medical records should also include the medications you are taking, any negative side effects, and the treatments you have had, such as physical therapy, spinal decompression, or steroid injections. You should also have the results of an MRI or CT scan supporting a diagnosis of stenosis.
Treatments For Foraminal Stenosis
Mild cases of spinal stenosis can often be relieved by exercise and OTC medications. For the best results, you may want to try a formal physical therapy program, one prescribed by your doctor. In fact, some evidence indicates that physical therapy is as effective as surgery in relieving stenosis symptoms. Exercises such as pelvic tilts, bends and standing squats are particularly helpful at enhancing your flexibility and balance.
For some patients, aerobic exercise such as swimming and bicycling also relieves symptoms, although you may need to experiment to find what exercises work best for you.
NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and naproxen may well relieve your pain. In more extreme situations, your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain reliever such as an opiate. Of course, you must exercise great caution when taking these medications to avoid becoming reliant on them.
You may also benefit from injections such as corticosteroids, which work to reduce inflammation as well as pain. Sometimes physicians inject nerve blocks to stop the pain for an extended period of time.
Some patients find alternative treatments relieve their stenosis. For instance, chiropractic treatments to realign your spine and muscles may give you relief from stenosis symptoms. Acupuncture has also been cited by sufferers as being helpful for the condition.
Your surgeon may perform one or more of the following surgery types.
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Is Spinal Stenosis Considered A Permanent Disability
This medical condition often results in severe symptoms and a profound effect on those afflicted. The condition can limit ones ability to work or carry out normal daily activities and may result in permanent disability . Seeking disability benefits for spinal stenosis can be a lengthy, frustrating process.
Causes Of Foraminal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis can simply be a result of aging. Many people age 50 or over have some degree of stenosis. After decades of normal wear and tear, your spine may suffer damage that causes the spaces around it to narrow. Younger people can have this issue as well, although it is far less common. .
Spinal injuries and diseases may also cause stenosis. For instance, if you develop a bulging disc, it can put pressure on the foramen and nerves, leading to pain, numbness and other stenosis symptoms. A bulging disc might be caused by a work accident, an automobile crash or a sports injury.
Osteoarthritis is one possible cause of foraminal stenosis. This disease may cause bone spurs that in turn cause the pressure that leads to stenosis. The condition can also be caused by tumors, dwarfism, enlarged ligaments and spondylolisthesis another spinal condition that causes vertebrae to slip out of place, putting pressure on the nerves.
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Working With A Disability Lawyer
If you are considering applying for SSD benefits for a spine disorder, it is important to understand that most applications for this condition are initially denied. Spine disorders require that you meet a very specific list of requirements based on the specific spine disorder you are claiming. Because of this, it is important to work with someone that knows exactly what documents, medical files and supporting evidence should be included your application. An experienced disability attorney can help you with your application process and also help you appeal your case if your initial application is denied. Complete our free case evaluation to be connected with a local disability attorney to discuss your application and your condition today.
Bryant Legal Group: Helping People With Spinal Stenosis Get The Benefits They Deserve
At Bryant Legal Group, our practice focuses on disability insurance law. Weve fought for disabled professionals across Chicago and Illinois and have earned a reputation for our practical approach, sophisticated tactics, and stellar client experience. Weve recovered millions in benefits for our clients, and wed love to learn more about your story.
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Other Conditions Which May Lead To Spinal Stenosis Include:
- Herniated disks.
- Thickened ligaments. Ligaments that hold the bones of the spine together can become stiff over time and bulge into the spinal canal.
- Bone spurs on the spine.
- Tumors on the spinal cord.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Spinal injuries for example, from a car accident or other trauma.
- Ankylosing spondylitis a type of arthritis that leads to bone spurs.
- Achondroplasia an inherited condition which interferes with bone formation in the spine.
- Congenital spinal stenosis -a birth defect where the spine is naturally narrow.