Does my back pain have to be caused by physical impairment to qualify for SSDI?

A spinal injury may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits.Worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability and is one of the most common reasons for missed work, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Back pain can be agonizing and incapacitating, but unless there is a medically determinable impairment, you will not be likely to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Getting the right diagnosis for your back pain is the key to qualifying for the benefits you need.

Causes of Debilitating Back Pain

Chronic back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, some of which are temporary, such as muscle strains and minor fractures. In order to qualify for SSDI, your condition must be caused by an impairment that is expected to last for at least a year. The condition must also involve a physical abnormality of the spine or spinal column that is documented by an x-ray, MRI, doctor’s notes, or another acceptable medical test. Some back conditions that may qualify for SSDI include the following:

  • Degenerative disc disorder
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spondylitis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated disc
  • Nerve root compression

Even if you are diagnosed with one of these conditions, you will not automatically qualify for disability benefits. You will have to provide medical records proving that your symptoms match the requirements in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) listing of impairments for spinal disorders and you will have to demonstrate that your condition prevents you from performing tasks required by your job.

How Keller & Keller Helps People With Debilitating Back Pain

The SSA sees more applications citing back pain than any other condition, so it is vital that you work with an experienced disability attorney to present the most complete application possible. Our Indianapolis Social Security lawyer team will make sure that your back pain has been properly diagnosed, that you have the required medical documentation, and that you have proof that your functional limitations prevent you from working. If you are suffering from back pain and are unable to work, contact us for a free case evaluation. If we can help you, we will.


James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller