Can I file for disability for degenerative disc disease if I am still working?

The short answer is, yes, filing for disability with degenerative disc disease is possible even if you are working. This is because Social Security does not require that a person be completely unable to work. It does require, however, that their condition be severe enough to make it impossible to work and earn more than a certain amount, known as the SGA earnings limit.

If you file for disability with degenerative disc disease, you may be in the position of working but increasingly finding it more difficult to perform your job's duties, and/or work full shifts or hours on the job. Degenerative disc disease, because it is often a progressive, as well as exacerbating and remissing condition, will typically put individuals in the position of being unsure of when to file a disability claim.

If you are in this position, simply remember that you can file if you are working as long as your earnings are under the SGA limit (see the link in the first paragraph). If your earnings are over this limit, filing for disability will simply result in a quick denial that does not even involve reviewing your medical records.

Obviously, consideration of work plays a very important role in being approved for disability, evidenced by Social Security's definition of disability.

Social Security law defines disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

To emphasize once more, you can file for disability while you are working if your degenerative disc disease has prevented you from working and earning the substantial gainful activity (SGA) earnings limit. SGA is a monthly earning limit that Social Security considers self-supporting. If you are earning more than the limit, your disability claim will be denied without a medical disability determination.


1. Denied for disability with degenerative disc disease
2. Disability claims involving spinal stenosis, arachnoiditis, degenerative disc disease

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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