Around 3 million new cases of scoliosis are diagnosed each year. While the majority of these are diagnoses in children whose spinal curvature can be fixed, many cases severely affect adults and prevent them from working. When disabilities are this severe, Social Security disability benefits may be able to provide monthly financial assistance. But what do you do if your initial application is denied?
Potential Problems When Applying with Scoliosis
Having your disability application denied does not have to mean the end of the road. In fact, the majority of applications face denial on their first try like yours. Scoliosis is also one of the more difficult disorders to receive benefits for due to the variety of treatments available to help. Reasons your scoliosis claim may have been denied include:
- Your medical diagnosis/imaging did not show evidence of a compromised nerve root. In the Social Security’s Blue Book (which is used to evaluate all applicants’ disabilities), scoliosis does not have its own listing. Instead, it is covered by Section 1.04 “Disorders of the Spine”, which requires evidence of severe nerve root damage to qualify. If your scoliosis does cause nerve root damage, be sure to speak with your doctor to get proper imaging to show this. If it does not cause nerve damage, then you may qualify for benefits due to another severe symptom caused by your scoliosis (respiratory issues, heart issues, mental disorders, etc.)
- Your medication and treatment history do not demonstrate sufficient effort to fix your spinal curve. Modern medicine has made great advancements in helping those with scoliosis, varying from medicine to low-pain bracing to surgery if necessary. Between these treatments, it is more rare to be diagnosed with a form of scoliosis that can not be treated with modern methods. Be sure to consult with your physician to make sure your paperwork includes past treatment methods and the success rate of each.
Preparing for Your ALJ Hearing
An ALJ hearing is the logical next step after an initial claim denial. Regardless of your situation, it is always best to schedule your hearing as soon as possible at your nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). As you rise through the waiting list, you will have plenty of time to compile new medical evidence and prepare your case.
During your hearing, you will be assigned an administrative law judge, or ALJ, to listen to your case. After assessing all medical paperwork, financial statements, and testimonies, they will decide whether or not your case decision will be overturned, which will result in you receiving Social Security benefits.
Before your hearing, try to compile as much evidence as possible to supplement your initial claim. This may include new MRIs or CT scans, new medication lists or attempted treatments for your scoliosis, or even testimonies from old bosses or coworkers that can speak to how your scoliosis prevents you from continuing normal work. The more you have, the better chance you’ll have at receiving benefits.
Considering a Disability Attorney
When preparing for court, there is no better resource to consider than a disability attorney. Their entire line of work is dedicated to helping applicants like you prepare their case for an ALJ and demonstrate the necessity of getting benefits. If money is a concern, disability attorneys may still be an option because they work on “contingency”, meaning they can’t take payment unless they win your case.