A herniated disc can potentially be considered a disability if it significantly impairs your ability to work and perform substantial gainful activity. However, whether or not a herniated disc qualifies as a disability depends on various factors, such as the severity of symptoms, functional limitations, and the impact on your ability to engage in work activities.
To qualify for disability benefits due to a herniated disc, the Social Security Administration evaluates the condition under its Listing of Impairments, specifically listing 1.04 for disorders of the spine. Meeting the specific criteria in the listing requires demonstrating certain medical evidence, such as nerve root compression with specific findings and persistent pain, among other factors.
A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, is a common spinal condition that occurs when the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes through the tough outer layer. The spinal discs are rubbery cushions between the vertebrae (bones) of the spine, acting as shock absorbers and providing flexibility.
When a disc herniates, the inner gel-like material (nucleus pulposus) pushes out through a crack or tear in the disc’s outer layer (annulus fibrosus). This can occur due to age-related wear and tear, injury, or excessive strain on the spine. Herniated disc can cause:
Yes, it is possible to receive disability benefits for a herniated disc, but it depends on various factors, including the severity of your condition. In the United States, the two main disability programs that provide benefits for individuals with disabilities are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
To qualify for disability benefits, including SSDI or SSI, due to a herniated disc, you must meet the eligibility criteria set by the Social Security Administration. Meeting the medical criteria for a herniated disc, such as having diagnostic imaging and medical records documenting the condition, is not sufficient. You must also demonstrate that your functional limitations have prevented you from working for at least 12 months.
Herniated discs most commonly occur in the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine), but they can also affect the middle back (thoracic spine). The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on the location and severity of the herniation, as well as its impact on nearby nerves and spinal structures. Common symptoms of a herniated disc may include:
The Department of Veterans Affairs in the United States uses the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) to assign disability ratings for various medical conditions, including herniated discs. The VASRD provides a framework for evaluating the severity of disabilities and determining the corresponding disability ratings.
For herniated discs, the VA assigns disability ratings based on the range of motion and functional limitations caused by the condition. The specific rating depends on the affected area of the spine (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar) and the extent of impairment.
The herniated disc disability ratings range from 10% to 60%, with higher ratings indicating more severe impairment and functional limitations outlined under 38 CFR § 4.71a.
Before applying for herniated disc disability benefits, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
These questions are intended to help you assess your situation and make an informed decision.
Your next step is to apply for the herniated disc disability benefits. Some steps on how to apply for disability benefits for a herniated disc are:
If your herniated disc does not meet the specific listing criteria, you may still be eligible for disability benefits by demonstrating the condition and other related factors. The SSA will assess your residual functional capacity, which evaluates your remaining abilities to perform work-related tasks despite the limitations caused by the herniated disc. The SSA will consider factors such as physical restrictions, pain levels, and ability to sit, stand, lift, and perform other employment-related activities.
Follow the appeals process outlined in the denial letter. Typically, the first step is to request reconsideration, which asks the agency to review your case again with additional evidence. If the request for reconsideration is also denied, you can proceed to the next level of appeal, such as a hearing before an administrative law judge.
If your case progresses to a hearing, thoroughly prepare for the hearing by organizing your evidence, gathering witness statements if applicable, and understanding the issues that led to the denial.
The actual benefit amount may be different based on your work history, income, and herniated disc disability severity. If you are eligible for the SSI program, $914 will be the maximum monthly benefits and if you are eligible for the SSDI program, $3,627 will be the maximum monthly benefits.
A disability attorney can assist you in this preparation and represent you during the hearing. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey disability law firm such as Chermol & Fishman, LLC by calling 888-774-7243 if you have more questions about your herniated disc disability claim.
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