Spondylosis And Social Security Disability Benefits
Cervical spondylosis is a catch-all term for wear and tear on spinal discs in the neck, the normal result of advancing age. Signs of osteoarthritis develop as the discs begin to shrink, which can include the formation of bone spurs . Cervical spondylosis is common, affecting more than 85% of people aged 60 and older. Most people experience no symptoms for those who do, the most common are pain and stiffness in the neck, which can generally be treated without surgery.
Cervical spondylosis can sometimes cause the space between the spinal discs to narrow, which can lead to pinched nerves. In these cases, additional symptoms may include:
- Tingling, numbness and/or weakness in the upper or lower extremities
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty walking, or
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
The Social Security Administration will evaluate cervical spondylosis under section 1.04 of its disability blue book, which deals with disorders of the spine. This section covers back conditions that result in functional limitations due to distortions of the bone and ligaments in the spine, and compression of nerve roots or the spinal cord that may occur as a result. Such conditions may include osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, herniated discs and spinal arachnoiditis.
How Your Residual Functional Capacity Is Used At A Social Security Hearing
Many claims are denied both at the Initial Application and Request For Reconsideration stages of the claims process.
At the hearing stage, the Administrative Law Judge will determine your RFC and give hypotheticals to the vocational evaluator who will testify at your hearing. The judge will ask the VE to take into consideration your RFC, as determined by the judge, your age, education and prior work experience in determining:
- Whether you can return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years,
- Whether there is other work you can do or could learn to do.
It is crucial that you are represented at a hearing to make sure the right questions are asked of the VE.
What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine and causes inflammatory back pain. It also affects the joints in the shoulders, hips, ribs, heels, and other joints. It is a systemic disease, which means that it is not just limited to the bones and joints. AS causes swelling of the spinal joints leading to severe and chronic pain, stiffness, and discomfort. In this condition, formation of the new bone tissue in the spine causes sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed and immobile position. The spine becomes less flexible over time and results in a hunched forward posture. If left untreated, the inflammation may result in impaired mobility to an extent that the patient may be bedridden or even wheelchair bound. Warning signs of AS are as follows:
- There is persistent and excruciating pain in the lower back, heel, joints, or chest, especially after waking up in the morning, for more than 90 days.
- Pain may come and go, but its gradually moving up the spine and its getting worse.
- The patient may get relief from the symptoms only by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs /painkillers.
- Early signs and symptoms of AS include pain and stiffness, particularly in the lower back and sacroiliac joint , especially during early mornings or after long periods of inactivity. Stiffness, inflammation, and pain can be seen in other joints of the body. The shoulders, neck, hips, ribs, heels, and small joints of the hands and feet may be involved.
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What Is Cervical Disk Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease Can affect everyone differently. A common way that someone can experience degenerative disc disease is in the neck. This might be known as Cervical Disc Disease. Cervical degenerative disc disease is commonly a cause of neck pain that can extend into the shoulders and down the arm.
Cervical disc disease is similar to other forms of degenerative disc disease in that it is caused by an aging of the protective flexible discs between the vertebrae in the spine. There is not one cause of degenerative disc disease, however there are a few contributing factors. Genetics often determine how prone one is to cervical disc disease. Injury as well as being overweight can also increase your predisposition to degenerative disc disease.
Almost everyone will experience some sort of degradation of the spine in their lifetime. That is completely normal. However not all experience pain. Degeneration of the spine often wont become an issue until an individual is above 50. At this point in life, it might be difficult to learn a new skill if you are physically unable which is why it is important to learn more about how the disability application process might change.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Back Pain
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes destruction of the joints in the body. Although this type of arthritis is most common in the small joints of the hands and feet, it can occur in any joint. When rheumatoid arthritis affects the spine, it typically occurs in the cervical spine rather than the thoracolumbar spine . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine leads to neck pain, back pain, and sometimes causes pain to radiate into the arms and legs. Symptoms are similar to the symptoms involved with degenerative arthritis and include pain and swelling of the joints.
The diagnostic code for rheumatoid arthritis is 5002. The VA assigns rating percentages based on the frequency of incapacitating episodes. The following percentages are available under the rating criteria for rheumatoid arthritis:
- 100% if you are completely incapacitated and are confined to staying in bed
- 60% if there are severe incapacitating episodes that occur 4 or more times per year
- 40% if there are incapacitating episodes that occur 3 or more times per year if there is a definite decrease in health
- 20% if there are less than 3 incapacitating episodes per year
When pursuing a VA disability rating for back pain, its important to know your options. Keep in mind that a veterans disability law firm can work with you to build a claim for a higher rating.
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How Cervical Spinal Stenosis Can Impact A Persons Ability To Work
Many patients with c-spine stenosis experience comfort while sitting but become symptomatic when standing upright. That is because the space thats available for the nerve roots blocks the flow of blood from around the nerve. This congested blood irritates the nerve and ultimately causes pain when standing.
For that reason, your Long Term Disability insurance provider will seek to determine if there are alternative jobs that you may be able to perform that do not aggravate your condition, such as sedentary desk work. If desk work is not an option, or if you cannot sit longer than six hours without pain, your insurance company will further evaluate how well you can sit, stand, or walk and if there are any other jobs that you may be able to perform. If it is determined that your condition is severe enough to prevent meaningful employment, you may be entitled to LTD benefits.
Medical Evidence To Support Your Disability Claim With Degenerative Disc Disease
If you are applying for disability benefits because you are unable to work because of degenerative disc disease, you will need to provide supporting evidence and documentation for your claim. Degenerative disc disease is caused by the grinding on a spinal disc, and it causes sharp pain when you make simple movements.
To have a successful disability benefits claim, you will need to provide supporting documentation for your disability claim. Medical documentation that confirms your diagnosis and that clarifies the severity and the symptoms are a necessity to be approved for disability benefits. You should prepare a detailed list of all your medical providers who have treated your degenerative disc disease so you can get copies of the applicable medical records.
You need to provide records that detail your symptoms, restrictions, and limitations. Be sure to provide a detailed treatment history, results from your last physical exam, documentation by your physician of pain in your arms and legs, details about any mobility issues caused by the degenerative disc disease, notes that detail any signs of radiculopathy, which is tingling and pain when your arms are moved or when you turn your head. Provide documentation that details muscle spasms and severe pain, bowel and bladder control issues, and pain or numbness when you are walking up or down stairs.
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Exercise And Lifestyle Changes
- doing low-impact aerobic exercises such as swimming or walking
- using one firm pillow at night to reduce strain on your neck
- correcting your posture when standing and sitting
The long-term use of a neck brace or collar is not recommended, as it can make your symptoms worse. Do not wear a brace for more than a week, unless your GP specifically advises you to.
Spondylosis And Disability Benefits
In this atricle we will unpack the definition of Spondylosis, and discover what benefits for this common disability you may be entitled to. There are many common disabilities that have the capacity to change the quality of life you experience, as well as alter your daily routine as you know it.
- Cervical Spondylosis: degeneration in your neck
- Lumbar Spondylosis: degeneration in your lower back
- Thoracic Spondylosis: degeneration in both your upper and mid back
After identifying which of these degenerations you are suffering from, you will want to identify the symptoms and signs. Below you will find a beginning list of such indications, and note here that they can all range from mild to severe in nature and will depend entirely upon you and your specific case.
- morning mid-back stiffness after you get out of bed
- pain that radiates, or spreads, into your shoulders, arms, hands, or fingers
- extending and bending your body initiates pain
- low back numbness or tenderness
- shoulder or neck numbness or tenderness
- pain in the mid and upper sections of your back
- pain that decreases after you fininsh exercising or when you rest
- tingling or weakness in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, or fingers
- difficulty walking
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Va Disability For Neck Pain Tdiu
Sometimes a veteran will not receive a 100% VA disability rating due to diagnostic criteria, but the conditions they have will prevent them from working. If this is the case, the veteran may be eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability, or TDIU. TDIU benefits are equivalent to those of a 100% disability rating and are awarded when one or more disabilities render a veteran unable to secure and keep substantially gainful employment. Substantially gainful employment is any non-temporary, non-seasonal job that provides enough money for an individual to live a certain quality of life.
Getting TDIU for neck pain is often difficult because most of the rating tiers fall below 50%. This means that your VA disability rating for neck pain will likely not be the primary rating involved in your TDIU, but it may supplement another more severe condition.
Degenerative And Traumatic Arthritis
Degenerative arthritis is the chronic breakdown of the cartilage surrounding the joints. Degenerative arthritis of the spine, sometimes referred to as facet joint osteoarthritis, causes a breakdown of the cartilage between the facet joints in the back of the spine. Lack of cartilage causes pain and limitation of motion.
Traumatic arthritis occurs after an injury, excessive movement, or other physical trauma. Traumatic arthritis causes symptoms similar to other types of arthritis such as pain, inflammation, and build-up of fluid around the affected joint.
Both degenerative arthritis and traumatic arthritis, regardless of the joint affected, are rated under diagnostic code 5003. Depending on what joint is affected, there will be an identifying diagnostic code assigned to the condition. For example, the specific code for degenerative arthritis of the spine is 5242. However, the VA still rates degenerative arthritis of the spine under the criteria listed for diagnostic code 5003. Because there are technically two diagnostic codes associated with one condition, you would see the condition listed on rating decisions as 5242-5003.
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How Do I Treat Chronic Cervical Spondylosis
Randomised controlled trials identified by systematic reviews,,,, provide moderate evidence that various exercise regimensusing proprioceptive, strengthening, endurance, or coordination exercisesare more effective than usual care w25 or stress management,, although not all studies have found exercise beneficial. One randomised controlled trial found exercise plus infrared heat no more effective than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation plus heat at relieving pain at six weeks and six months, although both were better than heat alone.w26
Randomised controlled trials included in systematic reviews of manual treatments ,,,,,, provide limited evidence that mobilisation physiotherapy, and manipulation are more effective for chronic neck pain than less active treatments . However, manipulation has occasionally been associated with serious neurological complications .w27
Mobilisation, manipulation, and exercise seem to be equally effective.,w28 A study comparing combined exercise and manipulation with either modality alone found the combination to be more effective at three months, but no difference was seen compared with exercise alone at one and two years. However, another pragmatic study found no advantage at six weeks or six months of adding manual therapy or heat to exercise and advice.
Va Disability Rating For Neck Pain Criteria
VA uses 38 CFR § 4.71a, General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine to evaluate most neck pain conditions. Some examples of cervical conditions that are rated under this code include the following:
- Diagnostic Code 5237 Cervical Strain A torn tendon or muscle in the neck
- Diagnostic Code 5238 Cervical Spine Stenosis The spinal canal narrowing for one reason or another
- Diagnostic Code 5242 Degenerative Arthritis of the Spine Pain from the degeneration of the cervical vertebrae
This rating criterion is primarily based on a range of motion measurements. Currently, VA rates neck pain severity on the following values:
Secondary conditions such as an altered gait, trouble eating, or difficulty swallowing can also contribute to a higher VA disability rating.
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Va Disability Rating For Spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis, or cervical osteoarthritis, is another serious medical condition that veterans suffer from. Although cervical spondylosis is just a term to explain aging, if it happens faster than its supposed to, you may be eligible for VA compensation. Sometimes neck injuries do not cause a problem at the time of the incident. It can also be difficult if there is no record of the injury you received. However, that injury may accelerate the aging of your neck. If youre only 45 years old but it feels as though your neck is 80, it may be beneficial to speak with a doctor about applying for a VA disability rating.
Neck pain can also be caused by pinching from disc compression or the growth of osteophytes. Both of these conditions can contribute to the accelerated aging of your cervical spine.
What Type Of Work Can Someone Do With This Condition
Degenerative disc disease can cause both severe and chronic pain that prevents you from holding the same position for long. This means that if your job requires you to sit or stand for extended periods of time, working full-time may become impossible.
If you are over 50 and, for example, employed as a data entry clerk, you may not be able to sit long enough to do effective work. If you apply for disability benefits, you have a better chance of being approved because your age makes it more difficult to transition to a different occupation.
Employers tend to be reluctant to hire older workers for entry-level positions and when you are over 50, retraining can be more challenging. As a result, even if your grid does not find you disabled, the SSA could still approve your disability claim.
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Why Do I Hear A Crunching Sound When I Turn My Head
Articular cartilage forms a smooth covering over the surface of healthy joints. If your joint has been injured or becomes inflamed, the surface may thicken, creating a rubbing sound as you move. A courser grinding or crunching may indicate more advanced changes in the surfaces of one or more joints.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Patients who suffer from cervical stenosis may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Before you can qualify for Social Security Disability the Social Security Administration will have to determine if you are eligible for Social Security. A claimant must meet the requirements, both medical and non-medical, in order to be approved for benefits.
Those who have worked 5 out of the last 10 years may have the work credits needed in order to qualify for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration also has the Supplemental Security Income benefits program for those who have not worked 5 out of the last 10 years, but the claimant must meet strict non-medical requirements regarding household income. As for medical requirements, you must either meet a disability listing or prove that your functional limitations prevent you from performing substantial gainful activity.
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Applying For Neck Pain Veterans Disability Benefits
When applying for neck pain veterans disability benefits, do not forget to list the specific conditions that you have. Dont assume that just putting down neck pain is going to get you benefits.
Dont forget your secondary service-connected disabilities. For example, if your pain causes depression, that condition may now be considered eligible. Your migraine headaches may also be eligible for benefits. If there is a connection between any impairment and your neck pain, dont forget them on your application.
Always include all of your conditions such as PTSD, back pain, varicose veins, prostate cancer, hypertension, or whatever on your application. You may be surprised to see what is connected. When you call us, we go through an in-depth interview during your free phone calls to make sure we dont leave any money on the table for the VA.
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