A herniated disk is caused when the outer part of a disc tears, allowing the softer central part of the disc to bulge out. The condition can be extremely painful, yet often goes undiagnosed because the pain doesn’t always manifest in the back at first. Often, those with a herniated disc experience pain in their legs, thighs, buttocks, neck, or other body parts before they feel any pain in their backs.
Herniated discs are one of the most common causes of Social Security Disability claims. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the hardest to win. If you are claiming Social Security Disability benefits due to a herniated disc, you would be well advised to seek the help of a Social Security Disability lawyer as early in the claims and appeals process as you can.
One of the reasons that herniated discs are sometimes overlooked by Social Security Disability adjudicators is that the main symptom, pain, can be difficult to quantify. This is especially true for someone who has never dealt with the severe pain that a herniated disc can cause. Simply having pain does not qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits. Rather, you must be able to show that the pain you are experiencing makes it unreasonable to expect that you will be able to perform any work you may be qualified for, or be trained for.
Two things you can do to help yourself with your Social Security Disability claim are to make sure that every single restriction your doctor has placed on you is clearly included in your Social Security Disability claim and having a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer go over your claim with you to make sure that everything in order. What may seem like a very clear disability to you (as the person experiencing the pain) may not be so clear cut to an adjudicator who is reading your file. Your Social Security Disability lawyer can make sure that your claim is stated in language that will give you the best chance of having your claim or appeal approved.
Herniated Disc and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
Herniated discs are often caused by physical work, especially work that involves bending or lifting. If you have a herniated disc, however, it doesn’t really matter how you were hurt. What matters is that the pain makes it impossible for you to carry on physical work. Your medical evaluation should clearly state any restrictions on bending and lifting. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, most workers will need to show that they can’t even perform light physical work (defined as lifting 10 pounds frequently and up to 25 pounds occasionally).
As with most spinal conditions, your medical imaging tests (X-Rays, MRIs, CT Scans, etc.) can be critical to your Social Security Disability claim. Make sure that the results of any such diagnostics are included in your SSD claim. You will also want to be entirely sure that you don’t miss any appointments for these kinds of tests ordered by the SSA, as they will factor heavily into the decisions rendered by the SSA.
Herniated Disc and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work
By definition, sedentary work does not require the kind of lifting, bending, and other physical activities that physical work requires. Unfortunately, many who suffer from a herniated disc are just as uncomfortable sitting down for long periods of time as they are standing up or walking for long periods of time. Make sure that all restrictions, including restrictions on how long you can sit in one place, are clearly listed in your Social Security Disability paperwork.
How far you will need to go to prove that you cannot reasonably be trained for sedentary work depends largely on your age and level of education. Older or less educated people are less likely to be expected to retrain for sedentary work unless they have experience that is relevant to available sedentary jobs. Those who are younger than 50 or who have a higher level of education (and are thus deemed qualified for many desk jobs) will need to clearly show that they are incapable of performing even sedentary work before being qualified for Social Security Disability benefits. If you decide to the retain the help of a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate, they will be able to make sure all of your requirements are covered.