Degenerative Disc Disease can be a painful and difficult condition to live with. People who suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease often experience intense chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms. Because of the pain and limited motion caused by the disease, they are unable to work and earn a living. Fortunately Social Security Disability benefits can offset some of the financial burden that can be caused by Degenerative Disc Disease.
If you are living with Degenerative Disc Disease and are unable to work due to the symptoms caused by the condition, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. However, before you apply for disability benefits there are some things you need to know. Prior to filing your disability claim, make sure you understand what degenerative disc disease is, how it affects your ability to work and how the Social Security Administration (SSA) views this particular disabling condition.
Degenerative Disc Disease - Conditions and Symptoms
Contrary to what many believe, Degenerative Disc Disease is not an actual disease. It is a condition that occurs as age-related changes are made to the spine. It is not an illness or a communicable disease, but is something that happens over time and with age.
Your spine is made up of interlocking bones called vertebrae. Between these bones are soft discs that act as shock absorbers in the spine. These discs are what allow your spine to flex and bend when you move. When these discs begin to deteriorate, it can cause conditions like herniated discs, spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis. Although Degenerative Disc Disease can happen anywhere in the spine, it most commonly occurs in the lower back or the neck.
As you age, the discs in your back may experience a loss of fluid. This fluid loss can make the discs in your spine less flexible. It can also cause the distance between the vertebrae to narrow, compressing the discs. As you age, the outer layer of your discs may also begin to tear or crack. This can result in a bulge, rupture or breakage of the disc.
Not everyone who develops Degenerative Disc Disease will experience the same symptoms. Some people will not experience any pain from the condition. Others may experience intense symptoms such as severe neck or back pain, pain in the buttocks or legs, and limited movement.
If you are suffering from Degenerative Disc Disease and hope to receive Social Security Disability benefits you will need a professional diagnosis of the condition. To diagnose the condition your doctor will perform a physical examination and will discuss your medical history. During the exam you will be asked questions about your symptoms, activities, any injuries you may have incurred and any previous treatment you may have received. The doctor will evaluate your range of motion in the affected area and will analyze any pain caused by the movements. Imaging tests like an MRI may be able to help diagnose the condition.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease is included in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments. It is listed under Section 1.04 (Disorders of the Spine). However, that does not mean you will automatically be approved for disability benefits once you are diagnosed with the condition. You must prove that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working in order to qualify for Social Security Disability payments.
When applying for Social Security Disability due to degenerative disc disease you will need complete medical records documenting the severity of your condition. This means your doctor will need records noting your pain, your treatment and how the degenerative disc disease has affected your quality of life. In most cases MRI, CAT scans and X-rays will be required when applying for disability due to degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative Disc Disease and Your Social Security Disability Case
If you are suffering from degenerative disc disease and it is severe enough that you are unable to work you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. However, proving that you really are unable to work and that you are entitled to benefits can be difficult. Only 30 percent of the people who apply are approved at the initial level of the claim process. If your case falls into the other 70 percent you will want to appeal the decision and keep gathering information proving the severity of your degenerative disc disease.
Social Security Disability cases founded on back pain, like Degenerative Disc Disease cases, are sometimes hard to prove. If your case is one of them and you are denied at the initial level of the application process you may want to consider hiring a disability attorney to help you with your case.