Slepian Smith, PLLC

Are people suffering from chronic back pain eligible for SSD?

An estimated 80 percent of adults will experience back pain. It can range from a dull, persistent ache to sharp, painful spasms that make it hard to move.

For many, the pain is acute and recedes within a few weeks, but for those suffering from chronic back pain, it can be a challenge to work. If severe back pain is interfering with your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Musculoskeletal disorders

Back pain is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) that affects the body’s movement, or musculoskeletal system. MSDs are often caused by medical conditions, injury, stress and individual habits. MSDs are the leading cause of job-related disabilities.

A worker’s body is fatigued as it is exposed to MSD risk factors. As the body tires, basic recovery systems are overrun and the body develops a musculoskeletal imbalance. As the imbalance persists and recovery systems are unable to correct the problem, an MSD develops.

The challenge of an accurate diagnosis

One of the largest hurdles for those facing chronic back pain is diagnosis. A complete medical history and physical exam are the basic starting points. The examiner will ask questions regarding the onset and severity of the pain, duration of symptoms and limitations in movement. Along with the physical examination, neurological tests such as a CT scan, an MRI or an ultrasound may be used to determine the cause of the pain and treatment options. As you work with different health care providers for treatment options, make sure to keep records of the visits.

Meeting SSA qualifications

MSDs are a qualifying medical disability if the condition lasts or is expected to last longer than 12 months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines an MSD as the inability to ambulate effectively on a sustained basis for any reason. Workers who cannot perform fine or gross motor skills or experience pain as a result of the MSD may be considered disabled by the SSA. The SSA examiner will determine disability qualification by reviewing the worker’s medical evidence. A detailed medical record is a key source of evidence to any disability claim.

If performing your career is no longer possible as a result of chronic back pain, it may be time to apply for SSD. Consider working with an SSD attorney to strengthen your application.

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