Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Facts about Lumbar Fusion and Filing for Disability
1) Lumbar fusion is a surgery used to fuse together two or more vertebrae to eliminate pain, abnormal motion in the spine, tingling, weakness, numbness, and restore nerve function. It can be done in the front or the back of the spine.
2) Some of the most common reasons for lumbar fusion include spinal tumor, degenerative disk disease, vertebral fracture, spinal disc herniation, and scoliosis, though it may be performed due to other reasons.
3) There are different types of lumbar fusion. The two main types are prosterolaeral fusion and interbody fusion. There are three types of interbody fusion: ALIF (anterior lumbar interbody fusion), PLIF (posterior lumbar interbody fusion), and TLIF (transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion). Using both posterolateral fusion and interbody fusion is called 360-degree fusion.
4) Lumbar fusion can be quite an invasive surgery with long recovery times, though newer, minimally invasive techniques are being created all the time.
5) Even though vertebrae are being fused together, which should limit movement of the spine, most patients will not notice a movement restriction. If three or more vertebrae are fused together, there is a higher chance that pain will not be eliminated due to too much stress on the joints.
6) Artificial disc replacement is slowly being used in place of lumbar fusion, though it has not gained widespread popularity. During artificial disc replacement the vertebrae are replaced with artificial discs that allow movement, instead of the fusing the vertebrae together.
7) There is always a risk to any surgery and lumbar fusion is no exception. Complications can include distended abdomen, wound infection, urinary issues post surgery such as urinary tract infection and urinary retention, phlebitis in the legs, and blood clots in the lungs. Those who smoke are at a higher risk for the complication of pseudoarthrosis. There is always the chance that pain is not relieved after surgery. Although it is rare, some people may fail to improve and become paralyzed or even die.
Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?
Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).
It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).
Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?
Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;
2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;
3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Topics and Questions
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials