Functional Limitations for Lumbar Stenosis

Lumbar stenosis is a spinal canal disease that compresses the nerves moving through the lower back and down each leg. Although the disease can negatively impact younger workers, it typically is a degenerative medical condition that afflicts workers over the age of 55.

Symptoms can include severe cramping in both legs for workers that stand for extended periods. For example, a warehouse worker might have difficulty completing simple loading and unloading tasks because of nerve pain in the legs and lower back.

If you suffer from lumbar stenosis and the disease has diminished your job performance, you might qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates every SSD claim before deciding whether the symptoms of lumbar stenosis make it difficult, if not impossible to hold down a job.

Determining Eligibility for SSD Benefits

A team of medical examiners at the SSA uses a resource called the Blue Book to decide whether an applicant qualifies for SSD benefits.

Lumbar stenosis lists under Section 1.04 of the Blue Book in the section titled “Disorders of the spine.” However, having a medical condition listed in the Blue Book is not enough to qualify for financial assistance, Applicants must also prove the severity of the symptoms match what the Blue Book lists for lumbar stenosis.

If you fail to meet the evaluation criteria used by the SSA to determine SSD eligibility, you can seek approval for a Medica Vocational Allowance to defray some of the costs generated by the disease.

Applicants must provide a thorough description of the impairments that negatively impact work performance. In addition, they have to submit their age, education level, and work experience. Work with a Medical Vocational Allowance specialist at the SSA to submit the right types of medical documents.

Receiving a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment

One of the most important elements of getting approved for a Medical Vocational Allowance is to complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment indicates whether you can complete standard job tasks.

For a lumbar stenosis case, an RFC assessment might evaluate how well an applicant performs the following movements:

  • Standing
  • Walking
  • Carrying loaded boxes and crates
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Pushing mobile carts

For workers that suffer from lumbar stenosis, an RFC assessment determines how much pain an SSD applicant feels when exertion is required to complete a job task.

Submit Convincing Documents

The SSA wants to discover how long your physician expects your lumbar stenosis symptoms to last. Although medication, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy can combine to reduce pain, your symptoms might not ever disappear.

This means you should submit a document that is signed by your doctor that provides the SSA with a prognosis of a full recovery.

Documents that describe your work history gives the team of SSA medical examiners insight into your ability to deal with the symptoms of lumbar stenosis in the workplace.

If your symptoms deteriorate during the SSD application process, a manager representing your employer and the physicians who diagnosed the worsening symptoms need to submit documentation to the SSA.

Functional Limitations for Lumbar Stenosis

The Next Steps

Work with an SSD specialist to guide you through the application process. Just one mistake on your SSD application can derail your request for benefits.

You should also consider working with a Social Security attorney to help you present the most persuasive application. A Social Security lawyer is recommended for applicants that want to file an appeal over a denied SSD claim.

Additional Resources