Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

SSD AND SSI Disability Benefits and Back Pain

Many individuals suffering from chronic back pain find that their condition severely limits their ability to work, but are not sure if they can collect disability benefits based on this condition (back pain) alone, or if they need a more definitive diagnosis, such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, etc.

If you file for social security disability (SSD) on the basis of back pain, a disability examiner will first evaluate your medical records to determine if your symptoms meet the criteria for any musculoskeletal conditions listed in the social security list of impairments, or blue book.

However, even if the examiner in your case determines that your impairment does not meet the criteria of any listings in the blue book, you might still be eligible for disability benefits.

This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not evaluate claims based on a specific medical diagnosis, but instead awards benefits to those with impairments that prevent them from participating in substantial gainful activity (SGA). This amount changes periodically; to check the current amount, go to this page: SGA earnings cap.

So if you can provide solid medical documentation to support your claim that your back pain prevents you from earning at least that amount, you may very well qualify for disability benefits.

If your back pain is not the result of a musculoskeletal condition listed in the SSA blue book, there are two other ways in which you can still qualify for SSD or supplemental security income (SSI) benefits: 1) A disability examiner or judge can decide that your symptoms are equal in severity to those of a musculoskeletal condition that is listed in the social security book of impairments (referred to as equaling a listing), or 2) A disability examiner or judge can decide that your symptoms limit your residual functional capacity (your ability to perform work-related tasks) to the point that you are no longer able to earn a living wage (see SGA amount above).

The good news is that most applicants who are awarded social security disability or SSI for back pain do not meet a listing in the blue book. The not-so-good news is that those who fail to meet a listing must qualify for a medical vocational allowance in order to win benefits, and a medical vocational allowance is awarded only to those who can demonstrate that their condition prevents them from performing not only their current job, but any past jobs, and any other work to which they may be suited (based on age, education, physical or mental limitations, etc.). Needless to say, many disability applications are denied based on a disability examiner’s decision that you are still able to perform other work.

For this reason it is extremely important for those filing for disability based on back pain to provide a complete work history to social security, detailing not only titles held at past jobs, but the specific duties performed in each position—you do not want the disability examiner assuming you are qualified to perform tasks (other work) for which you have no prior experience or ability.

Additional information:

Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
How many Social Security disability cases are approved for back pain?
Get your pain symptoms on record so that Social Security can take this into consideration
Never minimize your pain or other symptoms because this can be used against you
Can I Receive Disability Benefits with Back problems?
Are Social Security Disability Claims Based On Back Pain Usually Turned Down?
Will I Get SSI or SSD Disability With a Ruptured Disc?
SSD and SSI Disability Benefits and Back Pain
Low Back Pain and Filing for Disability
Facts about Herniated Disc and Filing for Disability
How to get Approved for Disability based on a Back Condition
Bulging disc and Filing for Disability

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria