Back pain is one of the most common reasons for disability worldwide. While most back pain is temporary and treatable, it can occasionally be chronic and debilitating, preventing the sufferer from working and living their normal life.
If your back problems have a severe negative impact on your life, Social Security disability benefits may be able to assist you. Social Security was created to provide monthly benefits to those in need and help them stay afloat. Continue below to learn how to begin the process of applying for disability benefits.
Step One: Determine how much your back problems limit you.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the governing body in charge of reviewing disability applications. In order for them to understand the severity of your illness, you must explain every way that your back problems negatively affect your normal life.
For instance, one of the most common symptoms of severe back pain is limited flexibility and range of motion in the back. For someone with a history of physical jobs, such as carpentry or farming, back problems cause a host of complications that make returning to work a struggle. They can also interfere with your ability to travel (i.e. sitting in a car is too painful) or maintain your life at home (cleaning, cooking, etc.) Those with even more severe diagnoses, such as osteoporosis or ruptured discs, may not even be able to move independently.
If the symptoms of your back problems are severely limiting, the SSA may more likely approve you for benefits.
Step Two: Get test results confirming the severity of your condition.
Obtaining disability benefits for pain-based illnesses can sometimes be tricky. Because pain levels vary greatly from case to case, the SSA requires as much physical evidence as possible to show that your back problems are rooted in an observable issue.
The best types of evidence you can provide in your applications are official medical tests. X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, EMGs (nerve tests), and myelograms (which provide images of damaged areas in the back) are all recommended tests that can greatly boost your chances of approval. These tests can also help a physician diagnose specific illnesses, such as arachnoiditis and spinal stenosis, which officially qualify as SSA-supported illnesses.
Those who provide evidence from these medical tests are far more likely to be approved for benefits than those who only have testimonial evidence.
Step Three: Gather tax info, work history, and prepare to fill out the application.
The Social Security disability application requires a great deal of information from you regarding your life and history. Before applying, you should prepare as much basic information as possible: Social Security number, addresses, references, medical and work documents, even tax info and work history.
Tax information allows the SSA to see how much money you have contributed to Social Security in your years of work. Money contributions, or “credits”, are tallied up, then compared to your age to see if you’ve donated enough to qualify for benefits. Work history is also provided to show the SSA what types of work you have experience in, when/if you stopped working, and whether or not your illness prevents you from working similar jobs.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
While it is possible to complete the process yourself, applying for disability can sometimes be overwhelming. If you feel that you may qualify for disability benefits, it is wise to consult with a disability advocate or attorney. They are an irreplaceable resource when filing out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary. It is also required by law that disability attorneys do not receive payment unless you win your case.
To give yourself the best chance at receiving the assistance for your back problems you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today.