Back injuries and back pain in general can be severe enough to impair your ability to work or perform everyday errands and tasks. In the event you find it virtually impossible to earn a living, your condition could qualify you to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Understanding some examples of debilitating back pain and the criteria Social Security uses to determine eligibility for disability can help you understand whether or not Social Security is likely to approve you for benefits.
Examples of back problems
After a back injury, your body may experience degenerative effects that result in increasing or continual pain. A herniated disc occurs when the cushion-like discs between the vertebrae rupture or bulge, causing pressure on nearby nerves. Spondylolisthesis results when a vertebra slips out of place. A narrowing of the spinal canal is spinal stenosis, which produces numbness, body weakness and severe pain.
In general, some back injuries cause persistent back pain that resists treatment efforts. If this has happened to you, you probably have chronic back pain. Back injuries may also cause a gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs in the spine, a condition called degenerative disc disease.
Qualifications for SSD
Even if your back pain puts you in continual discomfort, it does not mean Social Security will approve your disability claim. The agency follows an evaluation process to determine if your back pain qualifies you for disability benefits.
Social Security assesses your residual functional capacity to determine what types of work, if any, you can still perform despite your back pain. If you cannot carry out tasks at your workplace or take on another job, you may be eligible for benefits. Also, your back pain must have lasted or is expected to last at least 12 continuous months or be terminal to qualify for SSD.
According to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, about 16 million adults suffer from back pain that limits their ability to conduct ordinary life activities, and 65 million adults report at least a recent instance of back pain. So even if SSD is not necessary for you at the moment, gathering medical evidence should help you if your condition becomes debilitating.