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The highest numbers of Social Security disability applications due to physical illness or injury are for back problems. While disability examiners will have numerous cases to assess on a daily basis, disability benefit is not approved for intermittent or moderate back pain which many people experience when they get to 40 or 50 years old. Back pain that qualifies for disability benefits must have been caused by medical reasons such as nerve root compression, spinal stenosis, herniated disc or arachnoiditis. It is however not enough to have any of these conditions to get disability benefits; the severity of the condition must meet the requirements for the specific spinal injury.
To qualify for medical disability the applicant is required to have suffered impairment due to the underlying condition for a period of at least one year. This is enough time for an applicant to have sort medical attention and undergone medical examination to commence treatment for the condition. There must be radiology images and doctors reports to accompany an application. If there is existence of back pain but there is no physical impairment that can be considered the cause of the pain, there is almost no chance of being awarded disability benefits.
There are many reasons that cause back pain and some of the common ones which will not qualify an applicant for disability benefits is fractures to the back bone and back muscles strains. These are limiting due to the nature of pain but since most heal within a few months of the injury, they are not listed for disability. Social Security Administration expects that most people with back pain will be able to work through it and that is why they only consider the most severe cases.
Back pain is assessed based on the level of limitation and applicant’s credibility. The severity of injury or impairment is determined based on the range which motion is limited, inability to bend or stoop, urge to switch positions to ease the pain, or experience trouble moving on your feet. If the level of discomfort also makes sitting down a hard task, then it means most of the work that can be done by someone who is seated, will not be possible and there is no option but to award disability for the condition.
Another aspect that is really important in awarding social security on the basis of back pain is the credibility of the applicant. The administrative law judge or claims examiner must believe that the pain an individual is going through is as severe as they are saying it is. To establish credibility, the examiner will look at doctor’s reports, therapy administered, quality of life, physical manifestation of pain and report by others on their understanding of their pain.