Harlan Still & Koch

Social Security Disability benefits for back pain

Many people in Missouri who suffer from back pain may wonder if they are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits for their injury. The answer depends upon whether the person’s work history and medical condition satisfy the many eligibility requirements for disability benefits. There are certain medical requirements for obtaining disability benefits based on a spine injury.

Disability benefits are available for a number of conditions called “disorders of the spine”: herniated pulposus, arachnoiditis, which is the inflammation of a membrane that surrounds the spinal cord, stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis and a vertebral fracture. The condition must be accompanied by evidence of nerve root compression demonstrated by pain, limitation of spinal motion, muscle weakness and sensory or reflex loss. Any such condition must be verified by an accepted imaging technique, such as X-ray or MRI, or an operative report or pathology note. In other words, the pain must be associated with a medically determinative condition that could reasonably be expected to produce pain or other symptoms.

The condition must interfere with the patient’s ability to walk, stand for long periods of time, lift or carry or perform fine motor activity. Most importantly, the condition must prevent the patient from performing substantial gainful activity and must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months. Substantial gainful activity is defined for 2016 as the ability to make at least $1,130 per month.

Anyone suffering significant back pain that interferes with work duties may need to get more information about filing the application for benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, accessed on May 15, 2016

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