Social Security Disability for Back Pain

Posted April 23, 2021 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Back pain is an incredibly common condition, with as many as 80% of all people expected to experience back pain at some point in their lifetimes, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Additionally, the ACA notes that back pain accounts for over 265 million lost hours of work every year. It is one of the top reasons people miss work, and is a leading cause of disability.

Back pain can be caused by many different spinal conditions, many of which happen normally with age. Chronic conditions causing back pain include scoliosis and degenerative discs (created by wear and tear, or osteoarthritis); inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, arachnoiditis, and spondylitis; and problems impacting nerves in the back: spinal stenosis, nerve root compression, herniated discs, and spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebrae).

The first thing you need to know about qualifying for disability based on back pain is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not typically grant benefits to those with mild, moderate, or intermittent back pain. Despite the fact that the SSA receives millions of applications for back pain—more applications for any other type of illness or injury, in fact—it only grants benefits to individuals with “medically determinable” back impairments. This means that, in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you’ll need to show that you have an impairment that can be detected and affirmed by a medical professional.

The Social Security Administration has a section on “Disorders of the Spine” in its Listing of Impairments, which is typically used to determine whether back pain is compensable. The SSA will look for diagnosed conditions, preferably with X-ray or MRI evidence, such as: herniated discs, compressed nerves, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and/or radiating spinal pain. In addition to your diagnosis, the SSA will also look for symptomology that would limit your ability to work, including (but not limited to): nerve root compression/pain, loss of sensation or reflexes, limited movement of the spine, motor loss or muscle weakness, and/or difficulty walking.

Back pain can be incredibly debilitating and may even prevent you from being able to earn a living to support yourself and your family. However, in order to qualify for Social Security disability, you’ll need to meet the Social Security Administration’s strict standards. Because the SSA receives so many disability applications for back pain, however, it may deny your claim even if you do have a medically determinable condition. This is why it can be helpful to have an experienced attorney on your side.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

See more on SSA’s Musculoskeletal Disorders:

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®