SSD for Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the United States, with the American Chiropractic Association estimating that about 31 million Americans suffer from this symptom. Chronic back pain can limit mobility and concentration, impairing victims in a variety of industries.
If your back pain has kept you from working, you may be interested in collecting Social Security disability benefits for your injury. Learn more about your options, and to discuss your claim with Baker & Baker, call us at 850-433-0888.
To receive SSD benefits, you’ll need to qualify in two different ways. First, you’ll need to prove the extent of your disability. Second, you’ll need enough work credits. The majority of people need 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10 years prior to the disability. You can earn up to four work credits per year. Younger workers need fewer work credits, so it’s important to ensure that you qualify at your current age.
Proving your disability is generally the more difficult part, particularly since “back pain” by itself is not a diagnosis. Per the SSA, you are considered disabled if:
- Your medical condition prevents you from doing work you did before
- You are unable to change to other work because of your condition
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or cause your death
To figure out how these requirements apply to your back pain, you have to figure out which qualifying ailment allows you to apply.
A wide range of conditions may cause back pain, and determining the root cause of your issue can help you figure out which requirements you must meet. Some qualifying conditions include:
- Degenerative disc disorder
- Herniated disc
- Nerve root compression
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
Meeting the SSA’s Requirements
The Social Security Administration maintains a Listing of Impairments, better known as the Blue Book. Each impairment included in the book has a strict set of criteria you must meet to be immediately approved to receive SSA. It’s important to check the requirements for your specific diagnosis. For example, consider lumbar spinal stenosis, 1.16 in the Blue Book. You must demonstrate that you have one of the following:
- Nonradicular distribution of pain in at least one lower extremity
- Nonradicular distribution of sensory loss in at least one lower extremity
- Neurogenic claudication
In addition, you must have both muscle weakness and either sensory changes or decreased deep tendon reflexes. You must also have an operative report or imaging reports that are consistent with a diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis. Finally, you must also demonstrate proof of a physical limitation caused by spinal stenosis that is expected to last for at least 12 months. You can prove this with a documented medical need for a mobility device or an inability to use one upper extremity to complete work-related activities.
As you can see, the requirements for each diagnosis are very specific and in-depth. Meeting these requirements often requires the assistance of a doctor with experience in Social Security disability applications and a disability attorney.
The Evidence You Need
It can be challenging to receive SSD benefits for back pain, so in general, you should have as much evidence as possible before applying. Accepted types of evidence include:
- CAT scans
- Leg raise tests
- Reflex tests
- Documentation of an increase in pain over time
- Documentation of a loss in mobility over time
- Documentation of increased reliance on pain medication over time
- Decrease in job performance over the life of the disability
- Prescriptions used to manage the condition
- Doctors’ notes for time away from work due to pain
- A report from your doctor indicating the extent of your disability
Not only do you need the right documentation, you need the proper language. If your doctor doesn’t use the proper language to describe your disability, the SSA may not recognize that your disability is severe enough to approve your application. This is why it’s highly recommended you work with specialists who understand the complexities of the SSD benefits system and know what it takes to get approved.
How We Can Help
Working with an attorney can help you navigate this frustrating and time-consuming process with more ease. Trying to prove that your back pain is serious enough to be worthy of SSD benefits is an uphill battle, but we understand that you don’t have the time for a long and drawn-out process. If your disability has left you unable to work, you’re likely facing a pile of financial obligations that continues to grow by the day. Knowing how to get your application seen and approved can help you avoid unnecessary delays, denials, and appeals.
That’s why we are here. At Baker & Baker, we focus exclusively on the needs of clients applying for disability benefits. This means we are up-to-date on the latest news and requirements coming from the SSA, so we know what your application has to include to be considered. Furthermore, we know what type of evidence you’ll need for your application to have a fighting chance.
If you’ve already had your disability application denied, you may be feeling hopeless and let down. But you aren’t done yet—there are still ways for you to get the SSD benefits you have already paid into throughout the course of your career. It’s likely that your claim was only denied because of insufficient evidence or unclear documentation. With a review of your file, we can identify flaws and weaknesses, come up with a plan to address those weaknesses, and get your appeal submitted.
You don’t have to go through this alone, and you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Let our years of experience make this time easier and less stressful for you.
Contact Baker & Baker Today
If you’re ready to apply for Social Security disability benefits or you’ve had an application denied, we can help you with the next step. Schedule a consultation with Baker & Baker to learn more. Call us at 850-433-0888 or fill out our online contact form to get started.