Back pain is a very common complaint. Eighty percent of American adults have suffered back pain at some point in their lives. For some, it is a mild discomfort or an ache after sitting too long. Others suffer severe pain that makes it difficult to move. About 16 million suffer from chronic back pain or pain that lasts for more than three months. Conditions that can cause chronic back pain include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Disc infections
  • Facet arthritis
  • Herniated discs (or herniated nucleus polposus)
  • Ligament injuries
  • Muscle injuries
  • Muscle tension
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal arachnoiditis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylitis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Vertebral fractures

Can You Get SSDI for Back Pain?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) receives many claims from applicants with back pain, but very few are approved. In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must be unable to work because of a “medically determinable” disability that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year. This means that most back injuries do not qualify, either because they don’t last long enough or because there is not sufficient documentation of a disability.

When you apply, the SSA will check to see if your condition meets a listing in the Social Security Administrations listing of impairments. Listing 1.04 applies to disorders of the spine. If you have spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerated disc disease, herniated disc, facet arthritis, or a vertebral fracture, you may be able to qualify for benefits under this listing.

Most who apply for SSDI for back pain will not meet a specific listing. If this is the case, the SSA will evaluate your functional limitations to determine whether you qualify for SSDI because you are unable to perform your past work or any other work. In order to determine what kind of work you can do, the SSA will look at your doctor’s records and consider your level of pain and range of motion. However, the SSA will also look at your credibility.

Credibility is important because back pain is subjective. The SSA wants to be sure that your pain is really as bad as you say it is. These factors will affect your credibility:

  • Your medical records
  • Your doctor’s opinion of your pain level and your limitations
  • How often you see the doctor
  • Your willingness to try treatments and stick to a treatment plan
  • How the pain affects your daily life
  • How your reports of pain compare to others with the same condition
  • Whether there is any evidence that you are exaggerating your level of pain

If you are unable to work because of back pain, it is a good idea to discuss your case with an Omaha disability benefits lawyer. The SSDI attorney will be able to tell you if you qualify for benefits. He’ll be able to guide you through the application process and gather the necessary documentation to support your claim and give it credibility. You can learn more about what a Nebraska disability attorney can do for you in our free guide, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska