The Law Office of Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC The Law Office of Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC

Does Spinal Stenosis Qualify for Social Security Disability?

At Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, we understand the profound impact that spinal stenosis can have on your life. This painful condition not only affects your ability to move and engage in daily activities, it can also make it impossible to work, leading to financial and emotional strain.

If you’re struggling with spinal stenosis, you might wonder if your condition qualifies for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The answer is yes, it can, and we’re here to guide you through the process of applying for SSD with compassion and dedication.

To learn more about qualifying with spinal stenosis for Social Security Disability benefits, continue reading. We also invite you to contact our law firm for a free case evaluation.

Understanding Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spaces within your spine narrow, putting pressure on the nerves (your spinal cord). It most commonly affects people over the age of 50. This can lead to significant pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and in severe cases, loss of mobility. Lumbar spinal stenosis, affecting the lower back, is particularly common and debilitating.

Living with spinal stenosis can turn everyday tasks into insurmountable challenges. Maintaining steady employment and earning a living wage can be near impossible for individuals with this condition. This can result in dire circumstances, leading to feelings of hopelessness as daily expenses and medical bills stack up.

Common Symptoms

Some symptoms experienced by those with a diagnosis of spinal stenosis include:

  • Weakness in the legs, feet, hands, or arms

  • Pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs, feet, hands, or arms

  • Difficulty walking

  • Neck Pain

  • Back pain

  • A burning sensation that travels down the buttocks and into the legs (sciatica)

  • Trouble balancing

  • Leg cramps

  • Leg pain while standing or walking for long periods (may ease when sitting or bending forward)

  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction

  • Loss of sexual function

  • Restricted range of motion

  • Cauda equina syndrome (CES)

Cauda equina syndrome is rather rare. The cauda equina is made up of nerve roots that extend into the lower back and sacral region. These nerves are responsible for sending and receiving signals to and from the legs and pelvic organs.

CES happens when several nerve roots that are part of the cauda equina aren’t functioning properly.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Some causes of spinal stenosis include:

  • Arthritis

  • Herniated disks

  • Spinal injury

  • Spinal tumors

  • Previous surgeries

  • Thickening of the ligaments that hold the bones of the spine together

  • Certain bone diseases

  • Bone spurs

  • Ankylosing spondylitis (a type of arthritis)

  • Achondroplasia (a condition that interferes with bone formation)

  • Congenital defects or growths in the spine

  • Scoliosis

How Social Security Disability Benefits Can Help

Social Security Disability offers a lifeline to those who are unable to engage in gainful employment because of spinal stenosis. These benefits provide financial support, acknowledging the profound impact this condition can have on an individual’s ability to work.

Qualifying for SSD Benefits With Spinal Stenosis

Qualifying for SSD benefits can be challenging. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict guidelines in place to ensure only legitimate disability claims are approved.

A claimant’s condition must meet or equal a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book to qualify for benefits. The Blue Book outlines specific medical criteria for various conditions.

For spinal stenosis, you must provide comprehensive medical evidence to support your claim. This can include:

  • Medical imaging results (such as MRIs or CT scans)

  • Doctor’s notes

  • Medical exam records

  • Medications and their resulting side effects

  • Treatments (such as physical therapy or steroid injections) and resulting outcomes

  • Documentation of the medical need for an assistive device (e.g. walker, bilateral canes, bilateral crutches, or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands)

Spinal Stenosis in the Blue Book

While the Blue Book doesn’t list every form of spinal stenosis, it includes a category for lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in compromise of the cauda equina. This listing is under Musculoskeletal Disorders, Section 1.16.

Meeting the disability criteria for this condition is challenging. It’s advised that applicants consult their doctor to see if they fulfill the necessary requirements.

Disability claimants who don’t meet the specific criteria for this listing can still potentially qualify for benefits under other listings, based on the symptoms of their condition.

The key to being approved for benefits is demonstrating that your condition severely limits your ability to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

Additionally, you must meet the basic eligibility criteria for Social Security Disability. This includes meeting the SSA’s definition of disabled.

Meeting the SSA’s Qualifying Criteria

To meet the SSA’s definition of disabled, a claimant must satisfy the following:

  • Have a medically diagnosable physical or mental impairment.

  • The impairment must be severe enough that it significantly limits the individual’s ability to perform basic work activities.

  • The impairment must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months, or result in death.

  • The individual must be unable to do the work they did previously or adjust to any new type of work because of their medical condition(s).

Qualifying For SSD When Your Disability Isn’t in the Blue Book

If your spinal stenosis doesn’t directly meet a Blue Book listing, you may still qualify for benefits.

  • Combination of Impairments: If you have multiple health conditions that together prevent you from performing SGA, you may qualify for disability without equaling a Blue Book listing.

  • Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): An RFC assessment may show that your condition, while not meeting a listing, still prevents you from performing any gainful activity. An RFC assessment identifies what work-related physical and mental tasks you are capable of doing, despite your disability.

  • Grid Rules: Individuals over a certain age who can’t perform any previous form of work may qualify for SSD thanks to grid rules. The SSA uses grid rules to decide whether an applicant can be expected to learn new skills and find new employment.

If an RFC assessment shows you can’t take on any previous or new form of employment, you may qualify for SSD through a Medical-Vocational Allowance.

Spinal Stenosis SSDI & SSI Claims

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two disability benefit programs.

  • Supplemental Security Income is designed for individuals who are disabled, blind, or aged and have limited income and resources. SSI is a needs-based program, meaning eligibility is not dependent on work history but on financial need. Applicants must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled to qualify for SSI with spinal stenosis.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance is available to disabled individuals who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits throughout their employment history. An applicant’s previous contributions to the Social Security system will determine their eligibility. Applicants must also have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disabled to obtain SSDI.

When discussing SSI or SSDI for spinal stenosis, it’s important to highlight the role of a comprehensive treatment history. The SSA will look for evidence that you have followed prescribed treatments and how your condition has responded to them. This information can be critical to the success of your claim. This is because it provides a clearer picture of the long-term impact of your condition.

What If I Don’t Qualify for Benefits?

If you don’t initially qualify for SSD benefits, don’t lose hope. The appeals process allows you to contest a denial.

Additionally, long-term disability insurance through your employer or a privately purchased policy also offers an avenue for support.

The Importance of Hiring A Disability Lawyer

The SSA denies most initial disability claims. Usually, this is because the claimant fails to provide sufficient evidence or fails to meet the SSA’s guidelines. This is why hiring an experienced disability attorney can be invaluable.

At Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, we are highly skilled in the practice of Social Security Disability law. We understand the complexities of the SSA’s review process and medical requirements. Our knowledge and experience can help increase your chances of obtaining benefits.

If you’re asking, “Can you get Social Security Disability for spinal stenosis?” reach out today. Our lawyers are here to answer your questions and clarify your concerns.

Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC

Choosing Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, means partnering with a team that genuinely cares about your well-being and financial security. Our deep understanding of Social Security Disability law ensures that your case will receive the attention and care it deserves.

We stand by our clients, providing not just legal representation, but also emotional support and understanding. Let our SSDI and SSI disability attorneys in Knoxville, TN, help you fight for the financial support you need.

Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation and take the first step towards securing your future.

Are you interested in legal advice on SSD?

Contact us today! Call our team or submit a form.