Filing for Disability: Proving a Lumbar Spine Disability
By: Disability Group
What is it?
Degenerative disc disease is a common cause of low back pain. It affects 65 million Americans a year! It is also one of the most misunderstood conditions. Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging. Although everyone will have changes in their discs over time, not all people will develop symptoms.
While degeneration might progress, the resulting lower back pain usually gets better over time. Understanding what Social Security looks for will help to strengthen a claim for degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.
What Social Security looks for?
Medical Evidence Showing Severity
(1) MRI tests are a great way to prove severity. A MRI offers a more detailed image than an x-ray. Most doctors will order this test when a patient consistently complains of low back pain.
(2) Discography is another image test that offers even more detail and can outline the damaged areas on an x-ray.
(3) Documentation is crucial! After an MRI test, a report is generated and the doctor can list comments. Words like “moderate” or “severe” stand out in a disability claim. Additional information concerning, nerve root, spinal cord damage and how the disease affects an individual’s ability to move is also helpful.
What Medical Treatment will aid your claim?
All Treatment Helps
(1) Medications are the most common form of treatment. They range from over the counter to prescription. Stronger medications are more likely to suggest severity.
(2) Physical Therapy is another treatment that determines severity. Showing consistency is key
(3) Other tools such as pain patches, injections and over the counter drugs also suggest that the patient is actively seeking relief from a severe condition.
(4) Surgery -A doctor’s recommendation for surgery on the spine reflects a serious condition. Whether you go through with the surgery or not will not affect your claim.
(5) Multiple failed treatments and combinations of medical aid are more likely to suggest the condition is severe.
How to Strengthen Your Case
(1) Track your symptoms and communicate with your doctor. An applicant who never complains about back pain, but claims it prevents him/ her from working is not believable
(2) See your doctor regularly and keep consistent progress notes.
(3) Maintain a supportive medical record. Request and document range of motion tests such as muscle strength, weakness and the ability to walk, sit or stand.