Disability Benefits For Degenerative Disc Disease
Social Security Disability Lawyers: Riverside, Orange & San Bernardino Counties
Social Security awards for long-term disability benefits are paid to back pain claimants more often than for any other reason. It is estimated that up to 25% of disability awards are for back problems. That’s because having back pain can disable you from doing even a desk job, and x-rays or MRI scans of a bad back can prove to Social Security that your pain is real. Disability Benefits for Back Pain or DDD
There are many different causes of back pain, but the main three things are: bad discs, arthritis, and pinched nerves. By bad discs we mean degenerated, bulging, or ruptured discs that cause pain and inflammation in the back. Arthritis in the back refers to bone spurs and wear and tear of the facet joints. Pinched nerves are when discs and bone spurs press on nerves or the spinal cord , causing pain, numbness, or tingling down one or both legs . Having one or more of these conditions can cause chronic and disabling back pain, and they can be documented by x-rays and MRI’s of your back to help prove to Social Security that you have an objective basis for your back pain and disability. Ten Tips to Help You Get Disability Benefits If you suffer from chronic back pain and are unable to work, the following ten tips or guidelines will help you get Social Security disability benefits. 1.) Get a Diagnosis
2.) Objective Evidence More than Mild
3.) Document Your Back Pain
How Is Service Connection Established For Back Arthritis
However, a medical professional can examine records over time to look for joint overuse and evidence of degeneration leading up to the onset of symptoms. In this way, a service members time in service can be connected to back arthritis even if it does not show up until much later.
Symptoms that appear within one year of service may also qualify for a presumptive service connection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis of the spine may cause stiffness or pain in the neck or back. It may also cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if it is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. Usually, the back discomfort is relieved when the person is lying down.
Some people experience little interference with the activities of their lives. Others become more severely disabled.
In addition to the physical effects, a person with osteoarthritis might also experience social and emotional problems. For instance, a person with osteoarthritis that hinders daily activities and job performance might feel depressed or helpless.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
You May Meet This Standard Yet Your Social Security Disability Claim May Be Denied
If a claim does not meet the boards standards or if an application is incomplete, then a valid claim could be rejected. Unfortunately, most people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are deniedeven if they have significant difficulty walking, moving, or performing everyday tasks.
When a claim is rejected, the SSA board will send a denial letter to the claimant, specifically addressing the inconsistencies or factors that disqualified the claim. Receiving this letter does not necessarily mean that you are ineligible for benefits. In many cases, the board just requires additional information and evidence that proves the severity of the condition and need for assistance. This is where the appeals process comes into play.
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Common Causes Of Service
Back arthritis is a common cause of disability resulting in VA benefits. Arthritis can be brought on by a traumatic injury, and this can be one way that back arthritis counts as a service-related injury.
Many service members, on the other hand, do not necessarily have a single traumatic injury to point to as the cause of their back arthritis. Instead, it is the general wear and tear on the body from joint overuse during service that makes the back arthritis service-related.
Contact A Va Disability Lawyer Today
A VA Disability Lawyers role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating appeals process if you have been denied benefits for your service-connected back arthritis. Generally, you need to be denied at least once before an attorney can assist, but once a lawyer is involved they will often be able to quickly determine what needs to be done in order to prove entitlement.
If your VA disability claim for back arthritis has been denied, be sure to contact the VA Accredited Attorneys at VetLaw right away to help make sure you get the entitlement you deserve.
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Factors That Lead To Arthritis In The Back Or Spine
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints. If you suffer from spinal arthritis, it is due to the inflammation of the joints in the spine. The inflammation may also impact the areas where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones of the spine.
Arthritis can happen anywhere along the spine but it is more frequent in the lower back. Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis, but other symptoms may include:
- Loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten the back
- Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
- A grinding sensation when moving the spine
- Weakness and fatigue throughout the entire body
The exact cause of spinal arthritis is not definitive but may be related to normal wear and tear , autoimmune disorders, infections and other conditions. Other factors that may lead to arthritis in the back or spine are:
- Irritation of the smaller nerves of the spine
- Injury to the bones, ligaments or joints
- Strain on the large-paired back muscles
- Injury to the intervertebral disks
Unfortunately, spinal arthritis is often chronic. However, certain treatment is available to help reduce symptoms, such as pain medications, steroid injections and physical therapy. In the most severe cases, surgery may be warranted.
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Because spondylosis is a degenerative process, it is irreversible, and treatment focuses on relieving back and neck pain.
Medications such as anti-inflammatories, analgesics, muscle relaxants and even some anti-depressants have been found useful for managing pain. Other therapies include exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. Surgical options are controversial as studies have shown that most patients experience more improvement with physical therapy and pain management than surgery. However, in cases where spondylosis causes a nerve problem or progressive nerve damage, or affects an individuals mobility, surgery may be necessary.
Standards Needed For Claim Approval
Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration does not approve most initial claims for arthritis. To be approved, it is important to submit all the supporting evidence you have. During an initial assessment, the Disability Examiner will determine:
- Does your disease prevent you from working?
- Is your condition expected to last for at least one year from when it caused you to either stop working or reduce your work so that after payment of impairment-related work expenses , your gross wages or net self-employment is not at the level of substantial gainful activity ?
- Have you been getting treatment for at least 3 months? And if so, how are you responding to treatment?
- If you are currently working and earned at the SGA level, did you have impairment-related work expenses that dropped your earnings below that amount.
- Is the disease causing chronic pain and swelling and joint motion that makes it painful or restricted to a degree that based on your age, skills, previous jobs, mental capacity, and education are you incapable of working at a Heavy, Medium, Light, or Sedentary level?
- Are you incapable of performing work?
If all those questions show you have severe arthritis by Social Securitys standards and that you cannot work in any occupations that you could do if you didnt have medical limitation, you should be approved for benefits.
Working With A Disability Lawyer
If you are considering applying for SSD benefits for a spine disorder, it is important to understand that most applications for this condition are initially denied. Spine disorders require that you meet a very specific list of requirements based on the specific spine disorder you are claiming. Because of this, it is important to work with someone that knows exactly what documents, medical files and supporting evidence should be included your application. An experienced disability attorney can help you with your application process and also help you appeal your case if your initial application is denied. Complete our free case evaluation to be connected with a local disability attorney to discuss your application and your condition today.
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Was Your Va Claim Denied
The accredited attorneys and advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD have decades of experience successfully representing disabled veterans and their families before the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the Federal Circuit. We may be able to help if your claim was denied. Contact us today at 800-544-9144.
Posture And Joint Health
Having poor posture can have a very negative impact on your joint health. Itâs important to stand and sit in the correct positions so that you donât put undue strain on muscles, ligaments and joints.
Itâs also important not to remain in one position for too long. Regularly moving throughout the day is good for your health.
Regular walks and stretches can do you the world of good. Think of the phrases âyour best posture is your next postureâ and âmotion is lotionâ to remind you the importance of not sitting still for too long.
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Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments dont sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
Risks Of Hip Replacement Surgery
The risks of problems after hip replacement surgery are low. However, there can be problems following surgery. The most common problems that could occur include:
- The ball comes out of the socket. This is the most common problem that can happen soon after hip replacement surgery. It can happen if you are in certain positions, such as pulling the knees up to the chest.
- Swelling that cause special cells to eat away some of the bone, causing the joint to loosen. This is the most common problem that can happen later after hip replacement surgery.
- Difficulty standing and walking.
- Need for revision surgery.
If you have one of the above complications, you may not be able to work for over 12 months. If that is the case, the Social Security Administration applies their listing of disabilities to determine if you are eligible for benefits. In order to win benefits you can meet or equal a listing. However, keep in mind that it is very difficult to meet a listing. Each listing has several elements that you must prove in order to meet that listing and obtain benefits.
Also, keep in mind that the date your benefits begin is tied to your application for SSD benefits and SSI benefits. With SSD benefits, you can obtain benefits one year prior to the date of application, as long as you were not working due to disability. As for SSI benefits, they begin the day you apply and not before that date.
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Hip Replacement And Disability Under Listing 117
Listing 1.17 is the most common listing the SSA uses when the claimant has undergone hip replacement surgery and is claiming disability. You can read the requirements of the listing below. As you can see, one of the main elements in the listing is a physical limitation that will last 12 months or longer. This is particularly important, in that many people will have hip surgery, but few will fail to recover in one year.
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Impairments Causing Joint Pain Or Joint Damage
Joint pain and loss of joint mobility may be caused by a number of disorders including:
- Traumatic damage to joints
- Neuropathic arthropathy
In all joints, osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis seen by the Social Security Administration. Osteoarthritis is also known as hypertrophic arthritis or degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis is not a systemic disease. It doesnt affect the entire body its effects are confined to the involved joints. Osteoarthritis is slowly progressive and starts with damage to the cartilage on opposing ends of bone inside the joint space . Any joint in the body can be involved. Heavy impact activity on joints predisposes to the development of osteoarthritis , and osteoarthritis is associated with advancing age. Trauma to a joint, such as a fracture into a joint space, is frequently followed by development of osteoarthritis.
As joint cartilage begins to soften and thin, unusual stresses are also put on the underlying joint bone. The body responds to cartilage and bone damage by trying to grow new bone. This process can lead to osteophytes around joints or in the spine, as well as narrowing of whatever joint space is involved.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the bodys own immune cells attack and damage the joints. The precise cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still not clear. Rheumatoid arthritis is seen 2 to 3 times as frequently in females as males. Rheumatoid arthritis often comes on gradually.
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How Is Spinal Arthritis Treated
The treatment for spinal arthritis depends on many factors. They may include your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis and personal health goals. Because the joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, the treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling
Other medications targeting specific symptoms or triggers of inflammatory arthritis
Physical therapy to improve back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: losing weight, quitting smoking, changing your posture, etc.
Listing 116 Lumbar Stenosis Resulting In Compromise Of The Cauda Equina
To qualify for disability because of lumbar spinal stenosis under Listing 1.16, you must demonstrate that you suffer from all of the following:
- non-radiating pain, non-radiating sensory loss, or pain or cramping in one or both legs
- neurological signs of muscle weakness and either sensory changes or decreased deep tendon reflexes in one of both legs
- X-rays or MRIs showing that the cauda equina is compressed, and
- an inability to use your hands for work because:
- you need an assistive device for walking that requires both hands
- you need a device that requires use of one hand, but you’re unable to use the other hand for work-related tasks, or
- you aren’t able to use either hand for work-related tasks.
The last requirement rules out all those who are living with great pain but who are able to walk and get places without assistance.
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Qualifying For Social Security Disability Benefits
What Diseases Automatically Qualify You for Disability?
If your disorder meets one of the Social Security Administration listings your claim will be medically approved for benefits. Section 1.04 of the SSA impairment listing manual, also known as the SSA Blue Book, describes the requirements to receive Social Security Disability benefits under the listing for disorders of the spine:
1.04 Disorders of the spine , resulting in compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord. With:
A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test
B. Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours
C. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively, as defined in 1.00B2b.
Residual Functional Capacity
What Do You Need To Prove There Are No Jobs You Could Do
In order to prove there are no jobs you could do, you need medical documentation from your doctors of all of your medical conditions. This means you need to make an effort to get regular treatment to document your condition over time. Further, it is helpful to get statements from your doctors on how your medical condition limits your ability to work. This can include a letter from the doctor or simply having your doctor fill out a questionnaire on your condition. Doctors often do not comment on your ability to work in their office notes because theyre focused on treating you rather than commenting on your ability work. It helps to ask your doctors opinion on your ability to work. Our firm often gives our clients questionnaires to take to treating physicians to document your symptoms and how they would limit your ability to work. We have developed questionnaires over time that ask the questions we have found are helpful in proving your case.
It can be overwhelming to try to prove that you are disabled. You have to collect medical records and submit them to social security and you have to get opinions from doctors that prove your inability to work. We can help you get all this information and improve your chances of getting social security disability benefits. Our Atlanta Social Security Disability lawyers can help you prove you are entitled to Social Security Disability due to your facet arthritis, feel free to contact us for help.