Can I Work With Degenerative Disc Disease?

Social Security Disability Benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease

If you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and it makes working impossible, you may be eligible to receive monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA oversees Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a program that provides financial assistance to workers who have become disabled because of injuries or illness.

To be eligible for SSDI, your degenerative disc disease must be severe enough to impact your vertebrae and result in chronic pain that keeps you from being in position, such as sitting or standing, for long periods of time. Degenerative disc disease can be devastating, causing horrible pain, mobility problems, numbness and tingling, and cause malaise, which is an overall feeling of being unwell. All these symptoms can keep you from your normal activities and from living a productive lifestyle.

Can I work with Degenerative Disc Disease?

Impacting Your Ability to Work

Because of the severity of the pain suffered with degenerative disc disease, you may find yourself unable to maintain mobility, so if you try to walk it may only be short distances and you may only be able to walk with the help of a cane or walker. You won’t be able to bend, lift, carry, squat, or reach, which can impact almost all work positions.

As the pain radiates down your legs, you will find yourself needing to reposition frequently. You can’t hold a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time or to stand for long periods of time. This can impact your work duties and cut into your work day. The numbness and tingling can be so uncomfortable that you must rub the aching areas to try to relieve them from the burning discomfort.

Limitations for Specific Jobs

Because of the pain and symptoms affiliated with degenerative disc disease, you will not be able to be a commercial driver and operate semi-trucks or heavy equipment because of the added bounce and discomfort your back will experience from the rough rides. Your inability to bend, lift, carry, and reach will keep you from working in a warehouse, stocking shelves, or loading trucks for delivery. Because of the drowsiness caused by the pain medication, you can’t operate saws or machinery in a factory setting because you could endanger your life as well as the lives of others.

Because of the frequent repositioning necessary from the burning, numbness, and tingling, you probably can’t sit for long periods of time without repositioning. Degenerative disc disorder can also lead to other problems, such as spinal stenosis, root nerve compression, or a herniated disc, the pain will become more intense and your limitations can be even more significant so you will find yourself unable to concentrate to handle jobs such as teaching or training others, completing paperwork, or staying focused.

Because pain impacts your thought process, any kind of sedentary work is no longer an option because you couldn’t continuously provide quality results without multiple errors. You can’t work in a pharmacy or in healthcare because of danger of making mistakes while working with prescriptions.

Applying for Disability Benefits

Tests will show the severity of your condition and support your claim. The key to a successful claim is supplying documentation that supports your diagnosis, your symptoms, your treatments, side effects, limitations, and restrictions. You can use several different approaches to start the claims process. If you prefer to start the claims process in person, you can visit your nearest SSA office and sit down one-on-one with a SSA employee.

You can call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 to start the claims process over the phone or you can visit the SSA website to start the filing process. You can choose representation by an advocate or an attorney which will improve your odds of a successful claim. Ensuring your medical records, notes, and documentation are delivered to Disability Determination Services is important in securing your claim’s success.

Your claim can be denied twice, but you or your representative can file appeals. The final step is a hearing before an administrative law judge who will decide if you do meet the requirements set forth by the SSA to be eligible for SSDI benefits.