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Social Security Benefits for Back Pain

It can be challenging to get social security benefits when your primary disabling condition is back pain. Unfortunately, pain is an extremely subjective condition...many times, you have only your word that you are in severe pain. When you cannot work due to back pain or injury, having an experienced attorney on your side can be vital to proving your case.

Social Security sets out guidelines for back pain that are quite specific and difficult to meet. To meet the guidelines for back pain, you must prove that you have:

• “Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the low back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine);
OR
• Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours;
OR
• Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically-acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic non-radicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively.”

In all of these cases, you will need a very specific diagnosis. Something like chronic back pain or degenerative disc disease is not enough. You must prove that you have one of the above conditions, or that your condition is pinching an identifiable nerve.

The first step is to go to your doctor and be specific about the severity of your pain, your limitations, and the fact that you want to pursue treatment aggressively. Even if your back problem cannot be addressed via surgery, to qualify for disability benefits, having x-rays and an MRI will be very important in ensuring your case can be successful.

Your next step will be to consult an attorney to help you with your claim. It will be important to ensure that the Social Security Administration has all available medical records, including doctors' notes, emergency room records, and imaging studies. Unfortunately, for many cases of back pain, even severe cases, the matter isn't successful until it is heard in front of a judge.

Because back pain is so subjective, and a mild bulging disc can be a minor annoyance to one person and debilitating pain for another, it is vital that you have someone on your side who is familiar with the law and can help you tell your story. Your story and your limitations are going to be an extremely important deciding factor in your case.

At the Law Office of Morgan J. Gray, we can help you get benefits for back pain. Even without one of the specific diagnoses required by Social Security's rules, it is possible to show that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working, particularly if you have other conditions that hinder your ability to work. If you are experiencing back pain and are unable to do your job because of it, having an attorney working with you from the moment you apply can be very helpful in ensuring you get the benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today for an assessment about whether your situation might qualify you for Social Security benefits.