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Can I get awarded social security disability for degenerative disc disease?

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Degenerative disc disease occurs then spinal discs wear out over time. These parts of the body are meant to cushion the spine, but unfortunately, over time, they can degrade or dry out, leading to the loss of cushioning. One of the results of degenerative disc disease (DDD) is neck and/or back pain, leading to quality of life issues and difficulty working (both finding and maintaining work). Though this disease can be debilitating, it can be difficult to qualify for disability with DDD. This article will outline what the causes of the disease are, and what it takes to qualify for your disability claim.

Causes and Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

This type of disc degeneration can be caused by the drying out of the disc, injuries from daily activities, and sports injuries that result in minor disc tears. The common symptoms that sufferers experience are numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, and worsening pain when lifting, bending, twisting, or sitting.

Certain complications will develop as the condition lingers, including 

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Vertebrae that slip out of place
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative adult scoliosis
  • Loss of motion in the spine accompanied by leg weakness
  • Sciatica and nerve root compression

How to Qualify for Disability with DDD

The Social Security Administration often considers DDD to be a natural part of aging, and thus, may not grant disability benefits to the sufferer. Even if it is unrealistic for the individual to return to the type of work they had been doing, the SSA might not consider their claim, and this can be discouraging. One way around this is to get medical imaging like x-rays and MRIs to show how DDD has impacted your vertebrae and spine. 

With your medical imaging, you ought to be able to argue that you are otherwise unemployable, and therefore disabled. If you have any of the complications listed in the previous section that will increase the probability that your claim will be successful. These comorbidities are provable, and can show how your DDD is accelerating and spreading.

Being able to demonstrate how your disease affects your life can effectively translate to how it limits your ability to work. Some of the things that the Social Security Administration will consider are whether you have issues with standing for long periods of time, whether you need to take regular breaks, or have to miss multiple work days a month due to your pain and discomfort.

Barriers to Receiving Disability Benefits for DDD

Since the SSA is likely to consider DDD to be a normal part of aging, claims experts tend to expect sufferers to go back to work after a period of rest. This could mean going back to work where you have to lift between 25 to 50 pounds with regularity. This can be quite unrealistic if you have DDD, as anyone with chronic back pain will attest.

With chronic back pain conditions like DDD, pain can be subjective and hard to prove. Without medical evidence like scans you would be very much out of luck when presenting your case to the SSA.

One of the other difficulties is demonstrating that there are jobs you cannot do. Naturally you will know if you are having a hard time with lifting, sitting, or any other regular activity, but if you cannot prove that you cannot withstand the rigors of an 8 hour shift, whatever the context or skill level, you may be in trouble. Once again, this is where medical scans and a physician’s documentation will work to your benefit. It may be difficult to afford it, especially if you are out of work, but it is essential to improve your chances with the SSA.

Proving that your DDD caused pain and suffering should result in disability status can be overwhelming, but indeed, it is similarly difficult with most disability cases. If you take heed, gather the relevant evidence, work with the right physician for you, and seek out a disability attorney in Birmingham to help you through the difficult aspects of the process, your case is much more likely to go through in your favor. 

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