If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and it impacts your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you have had to work enough to earn adequate credits and to have paid enough taxes in to the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you are found eligible for benefits, certain dependents may also be eligible to receive benefits as well.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, which can be mild or very severe. Usually, this kind of diagnosis means that the curvature extends more than 10 degrees laterally after having been viewed from the front. There are four different kinds of scoliosis, and each of these can present issues.
Here are the four kinds of scoliosis:
- Congenital scoliosis is present at birth.
- Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form and is believed to be hereditary.
- Degenerative scoliosis can result from osteoporosis or traumatic injury.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis stems from muscle or nerve abnormalities.
Blue Book that is used to determine whether or not an individual is considered disabled per the guidelines set forth by the SSA. If you are unable to work because of scoliosis, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits based on Blue Book Listing 1.04 – Disorders of the Spine.
Using this listing, you will have to show evidence that demonstrates the following symptoms show you can qualify for benefits:
- Neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, motor loss accompanied by loss of senses or reflexes or limited motion of the spine that show evidence of nerve root compression.
- The need to change positioning more than one time every two hours because of spinal arachnoiditis that is manifested painful dysesthesia or severe burning.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis that causes pseudoclaudication, which is then manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness which causes ineffective ambulation.
If you don’t meet this specific requirements, you may meet the SSA guidelines elsewhere because scoliosis affects more than the spine. In the Blue Book section for musculoskeletal disorders the SSA states that if you are unable to move about or walk because of scoliosis, you may qualify for benefits under the inflammatory arthritis listing.
Meeting Disability Criteria with an RFC
Just because you don’t meet the qualifications under the Blue Book listing does not mean that you are not eligible to receive SSDI benefits. You can pursue your claim using a medical vocational allowance. This approach considers your age, skills, and any remaining functional capacity to determine if there is some other kind of work that you can perform.
This approach involves a residual functioning capacity (RFC) form, which will explain your symptoms, treatments and how your life has been impacted by the problem. As an example, if your problem causes severe pain and burning that limit your ability to stand for more than two hours, your physician should indicate that on your RFC.
The RFC will also indicate if your doctor has said you cannot lift more than a specific weight and how frequently lifting is allowed. It will also specify limitations regarding reaching, bending, sitting and so forth. It can also include how the diagnosis has impacted you mentally, such as any signs of depression or anxiety that may have resulted from the problems and how that affects your work.
Using the medical vocational allowance, you can be approved for benefits based on your limitations. It considers all symptoms, treatment side effects and how scoliosis comes into play with any other medical conditions that you may have as well.
Applying Specific Medical Tests to Your Case for Disability Because of Scoliosis
Scoliosis is diagnosed using a series of tests including x-rays and MRI and CAT scan imaging. Physicians will examine gait, reflexes, muscle distribution and other features to determine the presence of scoliosis. They will also work to determine if scoliosis is the result of another underlying condition and how that impacts you as well.
Regardless of the medical records supplied, the SSA can order a medical evaluation at their expense to determine the accuracy of the diagnosis and its impact on your ability to function. These evaluations may include x-rays as well. These exams are for informational purposes only and can help in the decision making process.
In some cases, a mental evaluation may be ordered to check for anxiety, depression and other mental issues resulting from the diagnosis and the impact it has had on your life. These mental issues will also be considered during the disability decision making process.
Getting Help with Your Scoliosis Claim
Because many cases of scoliosis are very treatable, and because there is no single listing for the condition under which to simply qualify, getting SSD benefits can be challenging, but certainly not impossible. Getting help from a Social Security advocate or attorney from the start may increase your chances of approval and can make the entire process easier to get through.
When it comes time to apply, you can submit your application online or at your local SSA office. Either way, you must ensure you follow up by providing the SSA copies of your supporting documentation, including your medical records.
Online applications can be completed at any time, but in-person application requires an appointment, which you can schedule by calling 1-800-772-1213.