Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

Applying For Disability On the Basis of Back Pain in California

Back pain is the fifth most common reason for doctor visits in the United States and it has been suggested that nine out of ten Americans will suffer from some type of back pain at some point in their lives. Studies further indicate that five out of ten working Americans suffer from back pain each year. With statistics like this it is not at all surprising that many individuals file for Social Security disability for a back condition that produces a significant amount of pain.

As a former Social Security disability examiner, I found that the Social Security disability process was not very favorable to disability claimants at the initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal level. It was also my experience that Social Security did not give much credence to the pain caused by an individualís back condition or the side effects caused by pain medication and muscle relaxers.

However, individuals who suffer from back pain also have another problem filing for disability in California. Many individuals do not have sufficient medical treatment records documenting their back condition. Sometimes this is simply because doctors inform patients with back problems that there is no treatment for their back condition (or additional treatment beyond what they are currently receiving that might be helpful); as a consequence, many do not seek out any other treatment.

These individuals often seek relief from chiropractors. But Social Security does not give the same weight to chiropractic treatment notes that they give to other treatment sources such as orthopedists or family physicians (another way of putting this is to say that the records obtained from a chiropractor are not looked at whatsoever). In fact, disability examiners can only use the objective testing or laboratory results contained within the medical notes of chiropractic sources for their medical disability determinations.

A lack of current medical treatment information often leads to consultative examinations being scheduled for claimants whose cases are pending at the initial claim and reconsideration levels (though, sometimes, consults are also ordered by judges at the hearing level). Social security medical exams are actually performed by physicians who do not work for Social Security but who have contracted to provide such services.

Consultative examinations are usually not that favorable for a claimant, and very very few claimants win disability benefits on the basis of a consultative examination. Why? Mainly because they are one-time medical examinations (paid for by Social Security) that are quick and often not very thorough. Even in cases where Social Security requests a spinal x-ray, it is unlikely for a claimant to be approved on the basis of back pain (Spinal x-rays do not show the detail of MRIs or CT scans and often do not show the source of an individualís back pain).

Some practical advice for any individual who is applying for disability on the basis of back pain is to attempt to have medical treatment notes that document your back pain and the treatment you have received. Better yet, of course, are treatment notes that either indicate what your functional limitations are, or allow some judgement regarding your functional limitations to be extrapolated. It goes without saying that claimants who have no medical treatment notes generally have much weaker disability cases.

  • 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

    Filing for disability in California

    How do I Apply for Disability Benefits in California

    How long should you wait before you apply for disability?

    SSD and SSI applications in California

    What do you do if your California disability claim is denied?

    Do you file for your children when you apply for disability in California?

    Should you apply for disability in California after a denial?

    How long does a disability case take in California

    After you file for disability in California

    Filing for disability in California and your condition

    Filing a disability claim in California, long filing process

    The California disability process

    Do I need to be disabled a year in California to get disability?

    The Social Security Disability process in California

    California Disability determination process

    Disability approval criteria in California

    California Social Security Disability decisions

    Steps to Win Social Security Disability benefits in California

    Questions about disability in California

    How much can you make in California and still apply for disability?

    California Social Security Back Pay

    Can Disability benefits be garnished in California?

    Disability two year medicare waiting period in California

    California review of Social Security Disability claim

    California Social Security Disability status

    VA disability and California Social Security Disability

    Can a Congressman in California help on a disability case

    How do examiners make disability decisions in California?

    Applying for disability benefits in California

    How long does disability take in California?

    How long does it take to get a decision on a disability case in California?

    Why do disability claims take so long in California?

    How Long Will It Take To Get My Disability Decision If I Appeal in California?

    Disability claims in California with certain conditions

    Applying For Disability On the Basis of Back Pain in California

    Filing for Disability with Fibromyalgia in California

    Social Security Disability For Mental Illness in California

    Winning California disability

    Will a lawyer improve the chance to win disability in California?

    Getting approved for disability in California

    Winning disability in California

    California Disability Lawyers and Representation

    Getting a disability attorney in California

    Finding a new disability attorney in California

    Applying for SSI in California

    Filing for SSI disability in California

    SSI disability denied in California

    Are SSI claims in California denied more than SSDI claims?

    How to apply for SSI Disability in California

    Doctors, medical records, and medical exams

    Doctors and applying for disability in California

    Can you be turned down for disability in California if your doctor says you are disabled?

    Disability hearings in California

    Disability Hearings in California

    California quick disability hearing

    How do I win my Social Security Disability Hearing in California?

    How long does it take to get a disability hearing in California?

    Disability denials in California

    Disability Denied in California

    If a disability claim is denied in California

    Appealing a Social Security Disability denial in California

    If you get denied Social Security Disability in California

    Why are Most Disability Cases Denied in California?

    Getting approved or denied for disability in California

    Disability appeals in California

    How do you file a disability appeal in California?

    How many disability appeals do you get in California?

    If your California disability appeal is denied, can you get another appeal?

    If your disability reconsideration is denied in California

    Filing a reconsideration appeal in California

    Why was I denied disability in California?

    Qualifying for disability in California

    Qualifying for disability in California

    Qualify for SSD in California

    Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in California?

    Disability lawyers in California

    Using a Social Security Disability Attorney in California

    Cost of a California disability attorney

    Why do disability lawyers in California sometimes not take cases?

    Hiring a Disability Lawyer in California

    Social Security Disability Attorney Fees In California

    How do Disability Lawyers in California get paid their fees?

    Should you get a disability lawyer before you get denied in California?

    Lawyer for a disability hearing in California

    Why was I denied disability in California?