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SSDI Eligibility Spotlight: Back Injuries and Diseases

According to the Social Security Administration, one of the most common reasons someone seeks Social Security disability insurance benefits are for back injuries and diseases. Back pain can be devastating, and some of the most significant injuries can include:

  • degenerative disc disease
  • bulging or herniated disc


Here’s what disability examiners look for in a disability claim for each of these conditions.

Degenerative Disc Disease
This is one of the most common impairments that cause people to be unable to work. For workers younger than 50, this can be a tough case to win because the Social Security Administration knows that this can be a normal part of aging, as the jelly-like discs in between your vertebrae shrink as you get older. For most people, the pain isn’t constant and they can continue to work.

To win this type of case for benefits, examiners will want to see evidence in the form of x-rays, CAT scans or MRI studies; the physician treatment notes that indicate this diagnosis; clinical evidence of nerve compression; and evidence that your ability walk has been impaired, or the range of motion in your spine is limited.

Bulging or Herniated Discs
People with a herniated or bulging disc often suffer from debilitating pain in the back and hips, either temporarily or chronically. In severe cases, a bulging disc can cause muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and numbness and tingling. 

In order to be considered for SSDI benefits, your disability must have lasted at least one year. Since many herniated discs either resolve themselves within a year or can be fixed with surgery, that requirement is tough to meet. 

In addition to a herniated or bulging disc, the SSA will want you to have one of the following provable problems: spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), nerve root compression or arachnoiditis, which is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord. You will then have to prove that your range of motion is limited, you have muscle weakness or your reflexes have decreased. 

Many people who have these back issues get denied on their first application for disability benefits, so it’s important for you to have a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer to represent your interests.  

Call us today at 816-842-7100 to speak with a Kansas City attorney. Or you can click here to email us and schedule your free consultation. We take all Social Security cases on a contingency basis, so we won’t get paid unless we win the case for you.


Jason C. Amerine
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President and Owner, Castle Law Office of Kansas City
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