According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 1 to 5% of people will experience back pain from a herniated disc sometime in their life. The pain could range from mild to severe and last a few days or become chronic.

Many who have herniated discs experience pain so severe that it interferes with their ability to work. If you have chronic back pain from a herniated disc that affects your ability to work, you could be eligible for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits.

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc (slipped disk or bulging disc) occurs when the soft disc(s) between the vertebrae of the spine become damaged and bulge out or rupture leaking its jelly-like center. This can damage surrounding nerves and affect mobility. Those with a herniated disc can experience the following:

  • debilitating pain in their back and hips
  • muscle weakness
  • tingling and numbness
  • loss of reflexes
  • loss of bowel or bladder control

Degenerative disc disease, natural wear and tear from aging, and injury are the leading causes of a herniated disc. Treatment for a herniated disc could include:

  • limited movement
  • oral and injected pain medications
  • physical therapy
  • surgery

These treatments could lead to a correction of the problem. But, in severe cases, the herniated disc worsens over time and leads to long-term disability.

SSDI and Herniated Disc

Herniated disc problems are listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) list of severe medically determinable impairments. SSA workers use this list for determining a claimant’s SSDI eligibility. Caseworkers incorporate each listing’s criteria into the 5 step process SSA uses to determine a claimant’s eligibility.

Individuals filing an SSDI claim for herniated disc problems must go through the following process:

  1. Determine if the claimant works at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as defined by the SSA in the year they file. The SGA level for 2017 is a monthly income of $1170.
  2. Determine if the claimant’s herniated disc problems significantly limits their ability to perform basic work activities such as:
  • sitting
  • standing
  • reaching
  • pulling or pushing
  • lifting or carrying
  • simple cognitive reasoning
  1. Determine if claimant’s herniated disc problems meet the criteria outlined in the SSA’s impairments list. The impairment list says the claimant must show medical proof they had been diagnosed with a herniated disc that has caused one of the following:
  • Nerve Root Compression which causes distribution of pain, limited motion of the spine, motor loss from muscle atrophy, sensory or reflex loss, or limited mobility in the legs
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis which causes chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and results in inability to ambulate effectively
  • Spinal Arachnoiditis which causes severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every two hours
  1. Determine if the claimant can still perform work they may have done in the past despite difficulties involving their herniated disc problems.
  2. Determine if the claimant can do any other type of work based upon their:
  • age
  • education
  • prior work experience
  • mental and physical capabilities

Getting Help with Your Claim

Has your doctor diagnosed your back pain as being caused by a herniated disc? Does it affect your ability to work? You could be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

But, getting approved for benefits can be a complicated process. You will need to have detailed medical records of your problems from the herniated disc and evidence of how it affects your daily life. Then you will need to complete all the necessary SSA forms proving the legitimacy of your claim.

Do not let the complexity of the process stop you from filing a claim. One of our experienced SSDI lawyers can help you through the process. Contact us for a free evaluation of your situation and let our family help your family.