Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits for a Herniated Disc?

Social Security benefits for a herniated disc.The bones (vertebrae) that form a human spine are cushioned by discs. The discs are like small pillows located between each vertebra in the spinal column and act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones. Each disc has a tough outer layer called an anulus that surrounds the nucleus. A herniated disc (also called a bulged, slipped or ruptured disc) occurs when a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed out of the annulus into the spinal canal. Due to the displacement, the disc puts pressure on the spinal nerves causing pain. Most herniated discs occur in the lower back but they can also occur in the neck.

Herniated discs are mostly caused by natural degeneration of the spine. As a person ages, the discs become less flexible and are more likely to tear or rupture. Other common causes of disc herniation include heavy lifting, improper lifting technique, car accidents, or other traumatic events like falls. Excessive weight, repetitive lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending are all risk factors that can lead to herniated disc. Smoking can also cause discs to weaken and break more quickly.

A Ruptured Disc Can Easily Prevent You from Working...

Symptoms of herniated discs include arm or leg pain (due to pressure on the nerves), numbness or tingling, and/or weakness. Most people are able to manage and improve symptoms by exercising, maintaining good posture, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. Surgery is not usually required. However, there are cases of disc herniation that are severe enough to qualify you for social security disability.

...And May Qualify You For Social Security Benefits

Physical labor is sometimes impossible for people suffering from herniated discs. Herniated discs are listed under section 1.04 in the SSA’s Blue Book Listings. Common musculoskeletal disorders that result from herniated discs include nerve root compression, spinal stenosis, and arachnoiditis. The Blue Book states that applicants with a herniated disc can qualify for benefits if the herniated disc results in the following:

  • Compromise of a nerve rood or the spinal cord;
  • Cause distributed pain, limits spinal motion, and/or causes motor loss ude to atrophying of unused muscles;
  • Causes sensory of the reflext loss, and;
  • If involvement is in the lower back, limits motion in the legs measured with a positive straight-leg raising test.

Let Our Social Security Attorneys Guide Your Claim

Since the Blue Book refers to very specific medical terms, a claim will rely heavily on medical records and recommendations of the treating physician.

As always, even if an applicant doesn’t meet the specific listing requirements, it is still possible to get social security benefits based on residual functional capacity.

For over 80 years, we have represented many, many clients who suffer from back problems including herniated discs. Our Social Security attorneys know what evidence is important and they are prepared to make your case to a judge. Contact us immediately to get your application started.

Infographic: Getting Social Security disability benefits for a herniated disc.

James R. Keller
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