Can I Get Disability Benefits for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries occur because nerves, bones or tissue around the spine have experienced trauma. A car accident, workplace fall or repetitive motions over years of work may lead to these injuries. Common symptoms associated with spinal cord injuries include pain and numbness. They can also lead to more serious complications such as numbness in limbs, the inability to regulate other body functions and paralysis.
Spinal cord injuries are often painful injuries that can cause debilitating effects. Many individuals who have spinal cord injuries are unable to work due to the serious limitations and side effects associated with these injuries. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer in Phoenix can help with your claim if you have been denied benefits or are having trouble with your claim.
One way to qualify for these benefits is to meet or equal the requirements in the muscular listing in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book.
A variety of spinal disorders may qualify under this listing, including the following:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Vertebral fracture
Under this listing, the claimant must show that his or her spinal injury caused nerve root compression that results in pain, weakness and an inability to move because of weakened muscles or reflex loss.
Another alternative under this listing includes having an operative note or pathology report confirming spinal arachnoiditis that includes severe burning or unpleasant sensations that require a change of position at least once every two hours.
Claimants could also qualify with lumbar spinal stenosis that causes pseudoclaudication, or inflammation of the nerves that causes pain and weakness in the legs, that makes it difficult to move effectively.
To qualify under this listing, the claimant must provide medical evidence such as:
- Pathology reports of tissue biopsy
- Medical images
- Doctor statements
- Surgery records
- Treatment notes
If the claimant does not meet the muscular listing, he or she may meet requirements of the neurological listing. To meet this listing, the claimant must meet one of the following criteria:
Complete Loss of Function
A claimant may suffer the complete loss of function in a body part due to the spinal injury, like leg or arm paralysis. Individuals with paraplegia or quadriplegia or who have lost all bladder function qualify under this portion of the listing.
Abnormal Ability of Motor Function in Two Extremities
Under this subheading, the claimant suffers from abnormal ability to move a leg and arm or both legs or arms. The disorganization of motor function must be so severe that it makes it extremely difficult for the claimant to maintain balance while he or she stands or walks, stands up after being seated, or uses the upper arms or hands.
Physical Problem Accompanied by Mental Effect
The last scenario under this listing is when there is a severe physical spinal cord problem that is not considered extreme on its own but that is accompanied by a marked limitation in one or more of the following cognitive areas:
- Ability to comprehend, understand or properly utilize information
- Ability to properly socially interact and get along with others
- Ability to concentrate, persist or work quickly
- Ability to adapt or manage himself or herself
The functional effects must be due to a spinal cord injury and must have lasted for at least three months.
Qualifying Through a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment
If you do not meet one of the listings described above, you may qualify for disability benefits through a residual functional capacity assessment.
The SSA considers the medical limitations that you have in combination with other factors, such as your age, work history and experience. To qualify for disability benefits, you must be able to show that you can no longer perform your previous work or any other job that is available.
Individuals who have spinal cord injuries may have difficulty working if they are relegated to a wheelchair or have incontinence. They may have to adjust positions after a certain period of time and may have to take extended breaks after physical exertion. The debilitating side effects that their spinal injury and its treatment cause may prevent claimants from a variety of types of work.
Contact a Lawyer for Assistance
Simply being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury is not a guarantee of eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. You must be prepared to prove to the SSA the nature of your injury, your treatment history and the limitations that your injury imposes on your life.
The lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC concentrate on all types of disability claims, including those associated with spinal cord injuries, muscular disorders and neurological disorders. We are experienced at presenting information in a clear and authoritative manner to the SSA. We can help you gather the information you need to establish your claim.
We provide a free consultation before you hire us and only receive payment for our services if you are awarded benefits and receive benefits.