If you have a condition of the spine that makes it impossible for you to work and earn a living, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Both these programs have strict medical criteria that must be met, and you must have a condition that will leave you unable to work for a year or longer, or that is expected to end in your death.
There are dozens of spinal disorders, and many of these conditions are specifically listed in the SSA medical guide, which is called the Blue Book. There are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Even if your condition itself isn’t specifically listed in the Blue Book, you still may qualify for benefits using a medical-vocational allowance or the residual functional capacity (RFC).
What Spine Disorders Qualify For a Disability Benefit?
In the Blue Book listing 1.00, which is for Musculoskeletal Disorders, spine disorders can be found. Musculoskeletal disorders can be congenital or acquired, and might include amputations, deformities or other abnormalities. These disorders may include any of the following:
- major joints,
- soft tissues,
- the bones.
Disorders of the Spine
Several disorders of the spine are:
- vertebral fractures;
- spinal stenosis;
- spinal arachnoiditis;
- injury to the spine that causes damage to and neurological dysfunction of the spinal cord and its nearby nerves such as paraplegia or quadriplegia;
- inflammatory arthritis;
- herniated nucleus pulposus;
- facet arthritis;
- degenerative disc disease;
- curvatures of the skeletal spine which affect the ability to breathe.
What is a Transverse Process Fracture and How Can it Qualify for Disability Benefits?
In some crashes a victim may suffer from a spinal fracture called a transverse process fracture. Each vertebrae has two protrusions (one on each side) called a transverse process, and when these are cracked or broken the injury is called a transverse process fracture. Transverse process fractures could cause internal bleeding and the following:
- increase in spine or abdominal pain;
- dizziness, faintness or weakness;
- blood or discoloration in the urine;
- loss of control of the bladder;
- numbness in the legs.
If you have a transverse process fracture that makes it impossible for you to work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for a social security disability benefits. You may qualify under section 1.00 - Musculoskeletal Disorders. Getting your doctor to conduct a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment can help you qualify for disability benefits with a transverse process fracture disability.
The Different Spinal Conditions
Spine disorders are some of the more common medical problems that can result in a permanent disability. The disabilities of the spine might range from fractured vertebrae to spinal arthritis. Many have a separate listing in the Blue Book, and each listing has its own criteria that must be met.
Here are some specific spinal conditions that have Blue Book listings:
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet arthritis
- Vertebra fractures
- Spinal arachnoiditis
- Herniated nucleus pulposus
- Degenerative disc disease
You may have a different spinal disorder that is debilitating, and it may not have a listing. But, if you can show that your restrictions and limitations have made it impossible for you to work, you can still be approved for disability benefits.
As an example, Disability Determination Services will consider damage or pinching of the nerves or distortion of the ligaments and bones in your spine as potential disabling conditions.
How Spinal Conditions Affect You
There are numerous spinal disorders, and you could have different symptoms that affect you to varying levels depending on the severity of your condition. Most people with a spinal disorder do have some difficulty performing physical work because the spinal cord affects almost every bodily function to some degree.
Most people who suffer from a spinal disorder will suffer pain to some extent. When you file your claim for disability benefits, you will want to make sure Disability Determination Services understand how your range of motion and physical abilities are restricted by your pain.
You will need to provide hard medical evidence that supports your claim. Medical records and physician notes should include how your pain affects you, your limitations, and restrictions that you face because of your medical condition daily.
Corroborating evidence will help you ensure your claim’s success. Be sure to provide a thorough list of all healthcare providers and include the dates of service and their contact information so the records can be thoroughly reviewed.
Compression Fracture Disability
It is possible to receive disability benefits with a compression fracture. Spine compression fractures are serious, and they can cause painful or debilitating symptoms that interfere with your quality of life.
If you have a compression fracture that makes it impossible for you to work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you cannot find your compression fracture in the SSA’s Blue Book lists, you may still qualify for benefits using the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC helps those with disabilities with conditions not listed in the Blue Book.
Your doctor may conduct the RFC which will state what you cannot do due to limitations caused by your compression fracture. For instance, the RFC may say you are unable to stand for up to two hours and sit for four or more hours. If the RFC reveals a physical impairment and the SSA assessor agrees it is severe, the RFC will be used as part of your evaluation for disability benefits. The physical side of the RFC will determine the exertional level of work you can do whether it’s sedentary, light, medium, or heavy. It is based on how much you can stand, walk and lift, carry, and push or pull objects. Your physical RFC level has the biggest impact on whether your claim for disability benefits will be approved.
There is also the mental side of an RFC which needs to be considered, such as how well you remember, understand, and follow instructions as well as your ability to make simple decisions and judgments.
Consult with A Disability Attorney
If a spinal condition has left you unable to work, consult with a disability lawyer about pursuing your claim for disability benefits. When applying for SSDI, you may want to consult with an attorney. Get your free case review today, so you can determine the best way to proceed with your disability claim for a spinal condition.