Qualifying for Disability Benefits (SSDI) with Back Pain in Pennsylvania
Almost everyone will experience mild or temporary back pain at one point in their lives. But for some people, back pain is so persistent and severe that it can make working completely impossible. If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, you could be a good candidate for monthly disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, or SSA.
At Young, Marr & Associates, our disability lawyers have more than two decades of experience serving the residents of Pennsylvania. Our legal team helps both adult and child applicants, and we have an outstanding success rate of nearly 90% compared to an industry average of just 62%. Just because your application has been denied, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your claim. To get started discussing your case in a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.
What Are the Requirements for Social Security Applicants?
If you’re applying for social security benefits, there are some basic medical and financial criteria you’ll need to meet:
- You need to have a disability which is severe enough to interfere with employment. If your condition is manageable and doesn’t stop you from working, you won’t be considered “severely” disabled.
- Your condition either should have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months.
- SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) applicants should not be earning any more than $1,070 per month as of 2014. The income limits are lower for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) applicants, but not all income will be counted.
As you can see, the first condition on the list is more open to interpretation than the others. As a result, most denials are due to the claimant’s medical problem not being considered severe enough by SSA doctors. If your application was rejected by the SSA, our social security lawyers can help you strengthen your claim and navigate through the complex appeals system.
Can You Get Disability Benefits for Back Pain?
We’ve discussed the importance of your health issue being deemed “severe” — but how is that determination made in the first place? The short answer is that the SSA uses a document called the Listing of Impairments. If your symptoms can match or equal the symptoms given for your condition in the Listing, your medical problem may be deemed considered severe enough to merit a disability award. However, here’s where it can get complicated: there is no listing devoted explicitly to back pain.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you cannot qualify; it simply means you need to take a slightly different route. For example, you may be able to qualify if:
- Your back pain is attributable to another condition which is in the Listing. For example, if your back pain is related to a problem with your spine, you may qualify under Section 1.04 (Spinal Disorders) of Section 1.00, which is devoted to musculoskeletal disorders. It should be noted that if you are trying to qualify in this manner, you will need to match or equal the Listing criteria associated with spinal disorders, such as evidence of nerve root compression. Under Section 1.04, examples of eligible spinal disorders include:
- Spinal Stenosis
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Vertebrae Fractures
- Herniated Nucleus Pulposus
- Spinal Arachnoiditis
- Facet Arthritis
- If you do not have any of the spinal issues noted in the Listing, you may be able to qualify based on something called a medical vocational allowance. With a medical vocational allowance, the “goal” is not to match Listing criteria, but to demonstrate that your basic functional abilities are severely limited. The SSA will conduct something called an RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) assessment to gauge what sort of work, if any, you are able to perform. Other factors which play into your RFC assessment results include your age, your skill set, and your level of education. Additionally, your medical examiner will review evidence such as your physician’s notes, your medical records, and any relevant lab tests. Depending on the results of your RFC assessment, the SSA may determine you are unable to perform even light or sedentary work, and may, therefore, approve your claim.
Our Philadelphia + Bucks County Disability Attorneys Can Help
If you’re a Pennsylvania resident who suffers from chronic back pain, monthly benefits may be available to you. The social security attorneys of Young, Marr & Associates can help evaluate your situation and review some of your legal options going forward. To arrange for a free and private case evaluation, call our law offices right away at (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.