If you have a spinal condition, such as arthritis of the spine, it can cause severe pain and limit your mobility. If arthritis in the spine has left you unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet the criteria established for a listing in the Blue Book, which is a medical guide used to determine if an individual is legally disabled and meets the criteria for monthly benefits.
The Medical Criteria
If you suffer from arthritis, it is an inflammation of the joints. There are many causes for arthritis, such as autoimmune conditions, viral and bacterial infections, the aging process, obesity, and broken bones.
There are four listings of the Blue Book that refer to arthritis and the impairments that one may suffer. Those listings are Listing 1.02, Listing 1.03, Listing 1.04, and Listing 14.09.
involves joint dysfunction. If your arthritis has caused major dysfunction of the joints in your spine, you will automatically qualify for disability using this listing.
You will be required to show that your arthritis has led to a deformity of the joint, such as misalignment, excess boniness, or permanent shortening of the joint leading to chronic stiffness and pain that prevents full use of the joint.
is applicable if you have undergone spinal fusion or a similar surgery and you can no longer walk effectively on your own and aren’t expected to walk on your own within a year, you may be approved automatically for disability benefits under this listing.
is for Disorders of the Spine. If you suffer from arthritis of the spine you may qualify through this listing. To qualify with this listing, you must show that you suffer from an arthritis-related condition that compromises a nerve root or the spinal cord with one of these complications:
- Nerve root compression – which causes wide-spread, nerve-related pain, weakened muscles, and limited flexibility with loss of sensation and reflex.
- Spinal arachnoiditis – which leads to painful burning sensations or other abnormal feelings that require you to change your position more than every two hours.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – which causes non-nerve related pain in the lower back, buttocks, or lower limbs with weakness of the lower extremities that leads you to require assistance when walking, such as use of a walker or crutches.
covers inflammatory arthritis, which includes psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. You must provide hard medical evidence to show that your arthritis has led to one of the following:
- Swelling or deformity of your hip, knee, or ankle joints that causes extreme interference with your ability to walk on your own.
- Your shoulder, wrist/hand, or elbow makes it difficult to care for yourself and perform routine activities.
- Swelling or deformity of your knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, ankle/foot, or wrist/hand with an associated disease in at least two body systems or organs with one affected more than the minimal amount and at least two of the following – fever, weight loss, severe fatigue, or malaise.
- Ankylosing spondylitis which causes the bones to fuse together with fixation of the lower or upper spine and extremely limited flexibility with the dorsolumbar or cervical spine at 45.
Applying For Disability Benefits
If you are disabled because of arthritis in the spine, you will want to apply for Social Security Disability. You can start the process online at ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and speaking with a representative or scheduling an appointment at your local SSA field office.