Disability for Back Pain: What Qualifies for SSDI Benefits?

Many people think that Social Security Disability (SSD) benefit payments are not available to people who have chronic pain as the source of their disability. But pain is a disabling impairment recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

London Eligibility specializes in helping people with every kind of physical or mental disability prepare, fight for, and win approval of SSD benefit payments. Our staff of highly trained disability advocates and supervising lawyers do nothing else than focus on giving every client the best possible chance of winning their Social Security Disability benefits.

How Back Pain Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability is very specific and requires everyone who applies for SSD benefits to show evidence that they have

a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death), and that prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities.

Anyone who has suffered with chronic back pain knows that it can fit the SSA’s definition of a disability when it is severe. However, to qualify for disability benefits from SSD, the pain has to be persistently severe enough to prevent you from working steadily for at least 12 months.

Sources of Back Pain that Can Qualify for Disability

The human back is used in almost every movement we perform in our lives. The skeletal and muscular tissue keeps us erect, enables us to move, bend, stretch, twist, stand, and sit. But as strong as the human back is, it is also composed of many vulnerable areas that can cause lasting pain, sometimes permanent pain.

Back pain can result from falls, car accidents, age, disease, and other causes. The Social Security Administration recognizes that some of the sources of genuine, disabling back pain could include the following:

Sources of Back Pain that Can Qualify for Disability

Whatever the source of your back pain, the key to winning the SSD benefits you deserve is being able to provide medical documentation that your pain is severe enough to face significant daily challenges, like the following:

  • 1). requiring assistance walking
  • 2). needing to adjust your position while seated more frequently than every 2 hours,
  • 3). restricted bending, stooping, standing, lifting, or holding weighty objects

Medical Documentation

Like all disability claims, applicants whose back pain is severe need to have a documented medical treatment history or substantial objective evidence from tests you underwent. MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, Reflect Tests, Leg Raising Test, and any other test producing results are important to include with your SSD application.

However, the Social Security Disability program emphasizes that it knows those tests may not accurately reflect your experience with pain, mobility, etc. The government always relies for clarification on the reports generated by the doctors and other healthcare providers who conducted physical examinations. The notes made during and immediately after a physical examination are clear statements of what was observed by the medical expert treating you.

Pain does not exist in a vacuum. When pain results from use your back or another part of your body, the human tendency is not to use it. When back pain is emanating from inflammation or pressure on spinal nerves, the pain is accompanied by marked weakness and numbness, and shooting pains into arms, legs, feet, and hands.

Documenting these awful sensations within your medical records is imperative. If these significant symptoms are not clearly communicated in the medical records, they will not be considered merely by your mentioning them during a hearing. Remember, “medically determinable” essentially means documented in your medical records.

Duration of Severe Pain

A problem many people face when they apply for SSD benefits based on back pain is not proving the genuineness of the agonizing pain, but proving that it is long-term, lasting, or expected to last at least 12 months.

Depending on the reason for the severe back pain, the remedial options may include surgery. While everyone hopes surgery will resolve the pain, keeping it from persisting long enough to be “long-term” for SSD purposes, surgery is often unsuccessful in resolving the pain. The surgery may also lead to complications which may themselves lead to more pain or other impairments.

Among the factors Social Security Disability case assessors will review is your response to treatment. This includes the type of medication, the type and frequency of therapy, and what degree of relief the therapy or medication provided. The information needs to cover a long enough period for the government to form a “reasonable projections about your future functioning.”

Get Expert Help with Your Back Pain Social Security Disability Claim

Attorney Scott London founded London Eligibility Advocates for Medicaid and Social Security to provide expert advocacy to people living with disabilities who need assistance collecting, analyzing, preparing, and fighting for approval of their SSD and SSI disability claims.