Social Security Disability and Back Injuries

Alliance Disability Social Security Disability Attorneys

Social Security Disability and back injuries are not strangers to each other. Back injuries are among the most common reasons that people apply. In 2012, 2,926,482 recipients of Social Security Disability were collecting benefits due to musculoskeletal system and connective tissue injuries. This makes up for about 1/4 of the applications for Social Security Disability and back injuries make up the majority of these claims. There’s no doubt that a serious back injury can significantly limit your ability to work. There are three major ways to win your Social Security Disability claim based on a back injury. There are other ways, but this article focuses only on these three:

1. Social Security Disability for Back Injuries, Listing 1.04

Social Security “listings” are a compiled document of conditions and symptoms where if you have the condition and have the required symptoms, you will win your case. These compiled documents are often referred to as the “Blue Book.” Back injuries are evaluated under listing 1.04. Under that listing you must first be diagnosed with a spinal injury or condition and then have medical records with the following findings:
1. 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
2. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively
3. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively
Disability Evaluation Under Social Security 1.00 Musculoskeletal System – Adult (See “1.00 Musculoskeletal System – Adult”)
These terms are difficult to understand, and this isn’t the place to break them down, however, we highly recommend that you print of the listing and take it to your next doctor’s appointment. Show the listing to your doctor and ask them to be sure to document the findings required by the listing. Countless times we’ve represented clients whose back injuries would meet a listing, however, their doctor failed to document their symptoms in the medical records. Don’t let your doctor short change you; take them a copy of the listing and make sure they record what the listing is asking for. You can print a copy of the listing by clicking here.

2. Less than Sedentary Ability

Many disability cases come down to being able to prove that, as a result of your back injury, you are unable to perform even a sedentary job. A sedentary job is a sitting job such as an office job.
Essentially you must prove to Social Security Disability that your back injury is so severe that you can’t sit all day. This isn’t easy to do, but it is possible. The best way to establish your less than sedentary ability to by having your doctor complete a “residual functional capacity” assessment. This assessment asks your doctor to state your physical abilities and limitations. For example the assessment may ask your doctor to state how many hours in an 8 hour work day that you’re able to sit, stand or walk. It may ask the doctor to state how many hours you may be off task in a work setting as a result of pain that you experience from your condition. These assessments break down your abilities in a way that Social Security can understand. A simple version of this assessment can be found by clicking here.

3. Over Age 50 Back Injuries

When you’re over age 50, different laws apply to your disability case. When you’re over age 50 you basically just have to show that you’re unable to return to do your past work, whereas if you’re under age 50 you have to show that you can’t do your past work or any other work. For example if you’re age 50+ and you were a cashier for 20 years, and your back injury prevents you from standing 6-8 hours a day, you’d have a good shot of winning your case. When you’re over age 50 your back condition doesn’t have to be so severe that it’s completely disabling, it just has to be severe enough to prevent you from doing work that you’ve previously done. The best way to establish that you can’t perform your past work is by having your doctor complete the residual functional capacity form discussed above. A copy of the assessment can be found by clicking here.

 
 

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