You may have back pain that is keeping you from working, but you’re unsure of whether you may qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits (either Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) based on your back pain. My firm has handled many cases involving many different back disorders that cause pain and limitations of motion. After handling so many of these cases, I realized that they can be complicated and there is a need for educating other attorneys about back conditions and how to win cases for SSI and SSDI involving back pain and disorders. I wrote an article on back disorders and Social Security disability as a resource for my colleagues:
Social Security Disability and Back Disorders, Trial Briefs, N.C. Advocates of Justice, August, 2009
I would like to provide you with some highlights from the article that I wrote for my colleagues and hopefully give you a better understanding of how I prove disability in cases involving back pain.
Social Security does have a medical listing for back conditions, and if a claimant meets or equals the criteria their case is approved. However, the criteria for the listing is so strict that very few claimants are found to meet or equal the listing by Social Security’s decision makers. You can find Social Security’s listing for disorders of the spine here:
In practice we have very few clients with back pain who are approved based on this listing. However, just because a client applying for SSDI or SSI benefits for back pain does not meet the listing, they may be approved using several other theories. I treat many of my back pain cases just like any other pain case, which is done in the following way: 1) I identify an impairment that could reasonably cause the pain and 2) I bolster my client’s statements about the intensity and limiting effects of the pain with the medical file. Clients with back pain who are over 50, in some cases, can be approved by applying social security’s so-called “grid rules.” These rules are essentially a chart that applies, age, education, and work experience to direct Social Security decision makers to find a client disabled
If my client suffering from back pain is between the age of 50 and 54 then I argue that the back pain, along with their other conditions, limits them to performing work sitting down or sedentary work. If a client with back pain is over the age of 55, then I argue that due to their back pain and any other conditions they are limited to performing light work (work performed standing 6 of 8 hours per day, and requiring lifting 10 to 20 pounds), which directs a decision of disabled. For clients with back pain who are 49 and under, I argue that their back pain, in combination with their other health conditions, would either: 1) prevent them from performing any work on a regular and continuing bases, or 2) render them unable to perform even sedentary work.
Back pain can limit one’s ability to do almost any work-related task. Back pain can also impair one’s ability to care for themselves and maintain their household. These are very important factors in arguing a Disability Insurance Benefits or SSI claim for back pain. Many of my clients suffer from back pain and it is one of the most common cases that my office handles. I often find that clients with back pain have other health conditions, such as: joint pain and arthritis, fatigue, obesity, diabetes, head injuries and many others.
Every back case is unique. Back pain can range from the lower back all the way to the neck. Some back cases are limited to the lumbar (lower) spine, others to the cervical spine (neck). Back pain can be caused by aging or trauma, or both. The pain in some cases is restricted to the back, and in other cases the pain radiates from the back to the arms and/or legs. There are many factors to analyze in cases for SSI or SSDI involving back pain. My staff and I make sure that we present Social Security with a theory of why the case should be approved based on the client’s back conditions and any other conditions that my clients suffer from. All cases are unique and you still may have some questions about applying for Social Security benefits with back pain.
If you have questions regarding back pain and disorders, and applying for Social Security disability benefits, feel free to contact my office. We offer a free initial case evaluation. If we are able to assist you with your case, we will put forth the effort and time to pursue the disability benefits you deserve. If we are unable to take on your case, we will explain why we cannot take your case so that you can decide whether or not to pursue Social Security Disability benefits. Please contact us by completing the contact us form on our website, or by calling our office. Our toll free number is 877-835-0923, and our local number in Durham, NC is 919-794-4437.