In order to qualify for Social Security Administration disability benefits you must have a condition that is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book.
There are hundreds of physical and mental disorders that make someone eligible for disability benefits. If you have worked in the past but can’t work now because you have a severe physical or mental health condition that makes it impossible for you to work you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits.
Qualifying For Disability Benefits With A Herniated Disc
Some spinal conditions are considered disabling by the SSA. However, you must meet the qualifications in the Blue Book for one of the spinal conditions recognized by the SSA in order to be approved for disability benefits.
There are two listings in the Blue Book that can be applied to a herniated disc, but the requirements for both listings are hard to meet.
You may qualify for disability benefits under the Blue Book listing for nerve root compression if you meet all of these requirements:
- radiating pain, tingling, or muscle fatigue consistent with nerve root compression
- a diagnostic test or clinical exam showing a radiating pattern of all of the following:
- muscle weakness
- signs of nerve root irritation, tension, or compression
- sensory issues like decreased sensation, sensory nerve deficit on electrodiagnostic testing, or decreased deep tendon reflexes
- an X-ray, MRI, or other imaging showing compromise of a nerve root
- a resulting physical limitation, with medical documentation, that makes one of the following true
- you need a walker, bilateral canes or crutches, or a wheelchair or scooter that requires both hands
If you don’t meet the requirements for that listing you may also qualify under the listing for spinal stenosis. But in order to qualify for benefits under the listing for spinal stenosis you need to have:
- nonradicular (nonradiating) distribution of pain in a leg or foot
- nonradicular distribution of sensory loss in a leg or foot, or
- decreased sensation
- sensory nerve deficit on electrodiagnostic testing
- lack of reflexes, trophic ulceration, or bladder or bowel incontinence, or
- decreased deep tendon reflexes in one or both lower extremities.
- an MRI, CT scan, or other imaging showing compromise of the cauda equina with stenosis, and
- a resulting physical limitation, with medical documentation, that makes one of the following true:
- you need a walker, bilateral canes or crutches, or a wheelchair or scooter that requires both hands, or
- you can't use one hand, and you need the other to operate a one-handed wheelchair, cane, crutch, or other device
A diagnostic test or clinical exam showing nonradicular neurological signs of muscle weakness and sensory changes evidenced by one of the following:
You will also need to submit all of your medical records, MRI and test results, and any other records that could show that you meet these requirements.
Applying for Disability Benefits
It’s common for people to have their claims for disability benefits denied the first time they apply. More than 2/3 of disability benefits applications are rejected the first time.
Usually the rejection is due to technical problems, mistakes made on the application, not submitting enough medical records and documentation, or being disqualified for not meeting the Blue Book requirements.
Working with an attorney that is skilled at Social Security disability benefit cases increases your chances of having your claim accepted and approved. An attorney that has experience with SSA disability cases can help you make sure there are no mistakes on your claim and can advise you on what medical documentation you need to meet the SSA’s requirements.
How a Herniated Disc May Affect You and Your Family
Being diagnosed with a disabling condition and being unable to work can be very difficult for you and your family. Not being able to work can put a huge financial strain on your household, especially if you were the primary earner in the household.
Being unable to work can put a lot of stress and pressure on you. But you can relieve that stress and pressure once your claim for Social Security disability benefits has been approved and you will have money coming in again to take care of your family.