Degenerative disc disease, or DDD, is a form of arthritis is the neck and spine. Over 3.5 million Americans suffer from some form of DDD, experiencing chronic pain, limited mobility, numbness, soreness, and episodes of more severe distress in periods when the illness worsens.
Luckily, for those need of assistance, Social Security disability benefits may be an answer. If your DDD is keeping you from working and living your normal life, look below to see if you may qualify for disability benefits.
Step One: Determine how much your degenerative disc disease limits you.
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines if you qualify for benefits, they need to know how capable you are of working and taking care of yourself. The more your illness prevents you from performing certain tasks, the more likely you are to qualify for benefits.
For example: degenerative disc disease can cause severe pain in the neck and spine. This is often made worse by sitting or standing for extended periods of time, as well as bending, lifting, and twisting.
If all of your previous work experience is physical in nature, such as doing construction or maintenance, DDD severely hinders your ability to work. Even in an office setting, being unable to sit without severe pain may disqualify you from working.
If your DDD prevents you from providing for yourself financially, Social Security is more likely to award monthly benefits to help.
Step Two: Retrieve test results confirming the severity of your illness.
Obtaining disability benefits for pain-based illnesses like DDD can sometimes be tricky. While DDD can cause extreme pain and be severely debilitating, Social Security reviewers need as much evidence as possible to confirm that your illness is also present physically.
The best evidence you can provide the SSA is an official diagnosis by a physician supported by medical tests. This can mean imaging studies such as x-rays, CAT scans, or MRI’s of the affected areas to show that your illness is rooted in disc injuries or joint distress.
This can also mean range-of-motion and muscular strength tests (measured on a scale of 1-5) to determine the level of debilitation your DDD causes.
Those who provide evidence from these medical tests are far more likely to be approved for benefits than those who only have pain-based diagnoses.
Step Three: Gather tax info, work history, and prepare to fill out the application.
The Social Security disability application requires all information that gives insight onto your life and how your illness affects you, such as tax info and work history.
Tax information allows the SSA to see how much money you have contributed to Social Security in the years you’ve been working. Depending on your age, you must have contributed a certain amount to qualify for disability insurance.
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. It is also best to have as much documentation on hand as possible (Social Security number, addresses, references, etc.) before beginning the application.
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 you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today.