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Can I Receive Disability Benefits with Back problems?

In the Social Security Administration's disability handbook (known to disability examiners as the blue book and titled "Disability Evaluation under Social Security), back problems are given consideration under section 1, Musculoskeletal Impairments.

The listing manual, otherwise referred to as the Social security disability list of impairments, mentions a number of listing-level conditions. These are grouped into categories and one of them is Disorders of the spine. This listing category specifically mentions the following conditions: arthritis, ankylosis, osteoporosis, herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal stenosis, vertebral fractures, and limitation of motion of the spine.

As a former disability examiner for the social security administration's DDS, or disability determination services, I was able to observe over a number of years that back problems, in all their various forms, show up quite frequently on disability claims. If a study were to be completed for which physical problems show up most frequently on an application for disability, back problems would no doubt appear in the top five. And considering all physical and mental impairments, back problems would still probably appear in the top ten alleged conditions, and still possibly in the top five again as well.

The reason for this, of course, is not difficult to understand. Back problems tend to occur as a function of aging. They also occur more frequently when the work performed by an individual involves stooping (bending), climbing, and lifting, such as would be the case in many occupations that involve medium level exertion.

However, a job does not have to be medium or heavy duty to involve strain on the spine. Many light duty occupations also place the back at risk. And, additionally, many claimants who file for disability benefits do so as a result of a non-work related injury to the back that has caused limitation of motion in the spine, or set the stage for arthritis, or degenerative disc disease.

Then, of course, there are individuals who have various degrees of scoliosis and who may have had this condition from early childhood.

Disability claims, whether they are decided by a disability examiner on an disability application, or on a request for reconsideration appeal (or by a federal judge at a social security hearing) are decided without regard to the specific condition that an individual possesses. Eligibility for disability benefits is decided as a result of the information presented in a claimant's medical records.

However, the determination of disability is based on A) what functional limitations or restrictions can be concluded from a review of the medical evidence and B) To what extent these limitations prevent the individual from being able to engage in work activity for which a substantial and gainful income can be earned.

These two facts require the social security administration to not only evaluate a claimant's medical records (from all of their treatment sources at least as far back as the time that they allege they became disabled and unable to work), but also to review the claimant's relevant work history.

The work history is reviewed so that the decision-maker on the disability claim can determine if the claimant's limitations, caused by their illness, injury, or congenital condition, will rule out their ability to go back to work at a former job, and also rule out their capacity for performing some type of other work.

Additional Information at: How to get Approved for Disability on the Basis of a Back Condition

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    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
    Can I get temporary disability in Kentucky?
    Requirements for SSI in Kentucky
    Can you work and apply for disability in Kentucky?

    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