Back pain and spinal disorders are among the most common Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. How do you know if your back injury or condition qualifies for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
At Affleck and Gordon, we specialize in Social Security disability, and we have extensive experience winning benefits for those with back injuries and spinal disorders that impact their ability to work. We’re your compassionate partner to help you through a difficult time in life. And, we only get paid if you win your case.
You may be a candidate to receive SSDI or SSI, but only if your case is presented with the right evidence. The right attorney can help you properly prepare your case so that you have the best chance of receiving benefits.
Common Spinal Disorders and Conditions:
- Herniated nucleus pulposus (Herniated Disc)
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal arachnoiditis
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet arthopathy
- Vertebral fracture
What do I need to win my case?
The first option is to meet an SSA listing for back injuries and conditions. This is the most difficult path to approval when seeking disability for any physical or mental impairment, as your symptoms must fall into rigid categories. Only a very small percentage of claimants meet the listing requirements. Just being diagnosed with a condition does not mean meeting a listing.
There is a five-step evaluation process for meeting SSA disability criteria for all conditions, including back injuries, auto-accidents, and pre-existing conditions made worse by your work.
1. Non-Medical Criteria
First, you cannot be gainfully employed above the SubstantialGainful Activity level (SGA), and you can’t earn more than $1220 (pre-tax) per month in 2019. If you’re currently working above the SGA level or make more than $1220 per month, your claim will be technically denied.
2. Severe Impairment
Once you’ve met the threshold for non-medical criteria, you’ll need to assemble all medical records to show evidence of the severity of your injury or condition. Your adjudicator--the official assigned to your case by the Social Security Administration (SSA)--will then provide you with forms and questionnaires you’ll need for your case. They may also schedule you for a Consultative Examination (CE) with an approved physician. If your impairments are determined to be severe, you will move forward to the third step. If not, you will be denied at Step 2 and given the opportunity to appeal.
3. Medical Listing
The SSA has categorized all physical and mental ailments in a very specific way. If your injury or illness falls directly into one of the predetermined categories, you will be approved at this step. However, it’s very difficult to gain approval on a listing, especially with back injuries or conditions. If you don’t meet a listing, your claim will move on to Step 4.
4. Past Work
When determining your ability to work, your adjudicator will consider all the work you’ve done in the past. The adjudicator then determines your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), which gauges how capable you are following your injury or the deterioration of your condition. If you’re no longer able to sit or stand for 4-8 hours a day, for example, you may no longer be able to work as you’ve worked in the past. At this point the adjudicator either determines you can still work at this level and you are denied, or they determine that you cannot, and you move on to the fifth step.
*NOTE: Some people over 50 may not have to prove Step 5 and could win at Step 4, but this depends on each case.
5. Other Work
At this point, the SSA wants to determine what other types of work you can perform, even though you may never have done those jobs before. They will assess your level of education, your work history, and your age. You will either be considered not disabled, because you are able to perform other work, or you will be approved for disability at this step. This is the most difficult step for those under 50, as the SSA has many suggestions for “unskilled labor” that may or may not be immediately available to you, but nevertheless are determined to be within your range of capabilities.
If you are denied, you can appeal at most step during the process. However, by having an attorney working for your case from the beginning, you have a much better chance of winning your case and receiving the benefits you deserve. At Affleck and Gordon, we work with our clients on their path to benefits. With your partnership, we can help determine the best route for you. When you experience these symptoms in a way that clearly impacts your ability to work, and have medical treatment that documents your conditions, we have a better chance of winning benefits for you. We know the ins and outs of both SSDI and SSI. We’re here with you for every step of your claim and will help you navigate the complexities of gaining approval.
Facts About Back Pain:
- Worldwide, back pain is the leading cause of disability.
- Half of all working Americans have back pain symptoms every year.
- Experts estimate that up to 80% of people will experience back pain at some point.
- Back pain is the most common reason for missed work in the United States.
- Most people with back pain recover--yet for a small percentage, the condition can become chronic and disabling.
- Back problems, such as Degenerative Disc Disease, can only get worse over time. Often, spinal injections, pain medication, and even surgery will be required. Many people end up in pain despite trying numerous approaches to treat their spinal conditions.
Although it is difficult to receive SSDI/SSI benefits for back injuries and spinal conditions, it is possible with the right help from the right legal team to advise you along the way. Contact Affleck and Gordon today for more information about how to win the benefits you deserve.
Link 1--to another A&G SSDI blog
Link 2--to another A&G SSDI blog
If your SSDI/SSI or Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 373-1649.