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Does SSA Qualify Back Pain as a Disability?

Back pain can be incredibly debilitating, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are meant to provide financial aid for those suffering from disabling medical conditions. However, it is difficult for those with back pain to qualify for disability benefits as the duration of their condition must last at least one year before being considered a medically determinable impairment (MDI).

These requirements can be tricky to meet if the back pain is caused by injuries like muscle strains, fractures or herniated discs that are likely to heal within a few months. Degenerative discs due to wear and tear, scoliosis and kyphosis, slipped vertebrae, impacted nerves from nerve root compression and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, arachnoiditis and spondylitis may qualify for disability benefits.

How Do I Get Approved for Benefits with Back Pain?

Social Security is responsible for determining which claims for back pain are severe enough to prevent an individual from being able to work. To make this determination, the SSA will assess objective signs and symptoms, as well as a claimant’s functional limitations, to see what type of work they can do. Those with conditions such as spinal stenosis, nerve root compression, arachnoiditis or spondylitis may qualify automatically for disability based on the SSA’s listing of impairments.

For other conditions, Social Security will assess an individual’s residual functional capacity to determine eligibility; factors such as walking ability, range of motion limitations and weight bearing restrictions are all taken into account.