The Social Security Administration (SSA) does provide benefits for spinal disorders. One of the main disorders that does qualify for benefits is the occurrence of a compression of a spinal column nerve root. Nerve root compressions result in constant pain, loss of feeling and muscle weakness. This type of nerve compression can be quite painful and quite disabling, severely limiting your daily activities.
Remember that SSA disability must be tied to your inability to complete job functions, so you must provide evidence to this effect. The SSA can provide disability support if the spinal disorder leaves you unable to work.
First, you must qualify medically. You must provide evidence of the reason that led to the nerve root compression—an injury, a disc issue, arthritis or another spinal diagnosis. The SSA maintains a list of impairments called the Blue Book; there is a section (1.04A) that lists disorders of the spine.
Basically, to qualify, you must experience significant pain associated with the nerve root compression and you must demonstrate that the pain, muscle weakness and loss of feeling causes a loss of motor function significant enough to prevent you from working.
You must show evidence that a doctor has examined you and done the required diagnostic tests to diagnose a nerve root compression. SSA needs several specific pieces of medical evidence:
· Physical exam evidence from your physician. His or her notes must show the cause of the nerve root compression as well as onset, how the issue has progressed, and a description and progression of your symptoms
· Evidence of muscle weakness, reflex issues, loss of feeling or muscle atrophy
· Descriptions of any complications to other systems, like neurological or circulatory
· Evidence of medical test results like imaging tests (MRI, CT, x-ray)
· Treatments prescribed (what worked, what didn’t work)
· Medications taken
· Prognosis from your doctor (both short-term and long-term), including a physician opinion about how long your period of disability will be
Also remember that when it comes to treatments your doctor prescribes, you must show evidence that you’ve followed the treatment plan. Failure to follow treatments is one of the main reasons people are denied benefits by the SSA.
If you have a lower back nerve root compression, the doctor must show results of the straight leg raise test, a measure of pain and other symptoms of lower leg function. SSA will not review your claim unless this test has been performed.
Disability claims and getting benefits for spine disorders is more complicated than other medical situations. Let us help you; we can be your advocate for a nerve root compression claim.