Discomfort, aching or stiffness concentrated in the lower back, resulting in the impairment of physical activity.
If the claimant has lower back pain, the SSA will determine if he or she has a positive straight leg-raising test. A positive straight leg-raising test occurs when the patient has pain in his back when lifting his leg. If the pain occurs between 30 to 60 degrees, this indicates nerve root irritation and a possible herniated disk.
As complex as the SSA disability system is, it is important not to become discouraged and abandon a claim because it is denied initially. Typically, most claims are denied at least twice before being approved by an administrative law judge. There are a number of appeals available, which can lead to a favorable decision on a disability claim.
Social Security Benefits
Back problems cause intense pain that can lead to chronic fatigue, emotional and mental problems, as well as paralysis. These symptoms can prevent you from working. Medications for pain have serious side effects that can cause difficulty in staying awake or concentrating. Surgeries are expensive, and do not always guarantee that the pain will go away. There are also huge risks involved with back surgery. Make sure you have all the information before making any decisions about medication or surgery. For information about back injuries such as herniated discs, lower back pain or stenosis, see the Institute for Spinal Disorders website at www.csmc.edu/533.html.
Social Security Process
Social Security evaluates each person’s claim for benefits using the following five steps:
- Are you working? If you are working in 2012 and your earnings average more than $1,010 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.
- Is your condition “severe?” If your back injury interferes with basic work-related activities, you claim will be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, go to Step 3.
- Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. Some back conditions that appear on this list are stenosis, degenerative disc disease, lumbar back pain with positive straight leg raising tests, and nerve root compression. If your back condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you are disabled. If it is not, then go to Step 4.
- Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then we must determine if the back pain interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, proceed to Step 5.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, SSA will see if you are able to adjust to other work. SSA will consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.
A professional will help you at all levels of the administrative process to:
- Assist you with your initial SSI & SSDI application, with filing your request with the Social Security Administration for reconsideration, requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge or filing an appeal with the Appeals Council
- Analyze your case under federal Social Security Disability regulations. Obtain a copy of your file from the Office of Hearings & Appeals to ensure that it reflects all your past medical treatment and that all records and documents contained therein are admissible as evidence
- Ask that any prior SSI & SSDI applications for benefits be reopened
- Protect your right to a fair hearing
- Make any necessary Social Security appeals
We are not retained until the contract is countersigned.