Back Problems: The Most Common Source of Disability Claims

If your back has ever “went out,” you understand just how devastating back problems can be.  In my practice, impairments involving the spine are the single most common disabling condition.  What follows below is my legal (as opposed to medical) understanding of back problems and my strategies to obtain disability benefits as a result of them.

1.  What Types of Back Injuries May Qualify for Benefits

Most significant back problems involve disc injuries.  The discs are the cushions between the bones in your back, the vertebra.  You can think of them as jelly donuts as they have a jelly-like substance in the middle.  They sit in between the vertebra and allow for the range of motion you have in your spine.  The most significant disc injury occurs when one of these discs ruptures and the jelly-like substance in the middle is pushed out – just like smashing a jelly donut.  When the substance comes out, it can come into contact with the spinal cord causing nerve damage.  This is commonly referred to as a herniated disc and can certainly be a source of disability.

Bulging discs, however, are usually not a source of disability.  Bulging discs are relatively common findings on an MRI.  People with absolutely no back pain can have an MRI with bulging discs.  As we all get older we tend to get more bulging as the process of aging compresses the spine.  This compression of the discs (jelly donuts) causes them to bulge.  Typically a bulging disc (or discs) by itself does not correspond to a disabling impairment.

2.  Back Problems as a Listed Impairment

In my previous post, 5 Step Disability Evaluation Process, I described the disability evaluation process.  The third step was to determine if the Claimant had a Listed Impairment.  If the Claimant has a Listed Impairment, disability is granted without a consideration of whether the Claimant could return to work.  A back condition has to be very severe to meet the requirements for a Listed Impairment.

As a threshold matter, there must be some nerve root compromise to qualify for the Listed Impairment for spinal disorders.  From a symptom perspective, the pain and other symptoms cannot be localized in the back but need to radiate into the legs (or arms).  As discussed above, something (most commonly that jelly-like material) is coming into contact with the spinal cord or nerve roots coming from the spinal cord.  This needs to be demonstrated with an objective diagnostic test – like an MRI or EMG.

If that preliminary test has been met, the Claimant can meet the listing one of three ways.  First, he or she could show that there is ongoing nerve root compression.  This is demonstrated by all the following:

  • limited range of motion,
  • atrophy (muscle loss),
  • sensory or reflex loss, and,
  • if it’s a low back problem, a positive straight leg raising test  (e.g. a test the doctor does by raising the Claimant’s leg while he or she is lying on the examination table).

If the Claimant cannot show ongoing nerve root compression, the Claimant could show spinal arachnoiditis.  This is a very rare condition involving inflammation of the membranes that protect the spinal cord.  The diagnosis would have to be confirmed through an operative note or pathology results.

Failing nerve root compression and arachnoiditis, the Claimant’s final way to meet the listing is showing lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication resulting in an inability to walk effectively. Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal causing a compression of the spinal cord.  Pseudoclaudication typically involves severe leg pain with walking or standing.  It is often accompanied by numbness and weakness in the legs.

3.  What if the Back Condition Is Not Severe Enough to Meet a Listing?

Most Claimants do not meet the technical requirements for the listed impairment.  Many have some of the elements, but very few have all the requirements to meet the listing.  In those situations, the Claimant must prove that his or her residual abilities would preclude returning to work.

As a direct result of the back impairment, Claimants often have difficulty doing the following types of activities:

  • lifting,
  • prolonged standing,
  • prolonged sitting, and
  • walking.

Back problems indirectly – either because of pain or the effects of pain medication – also can cause difficulties:

  • concentrating,
  • staying on task,
  • being punctual, and
  • missing work due to flare-ups.

For Claimants under age 50, these impairments must not only prevent a return to the Claimant’s past work but also prevent any other type of work.  When I ask my clients with back problems why they cannot work, they often indicate to me that they cannot sit or stand for very long.  Unfortunately, these restrictions usually are not sufficient to prove disability.   SSA has determined that there are jobs that allow for a sit/stand option.  In other words, there are jobs that can be performed either sitting or standing.  Additionally, SSA has found that these jobs will also allow for the employee to change positions frequently.  Thus the inability to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time rarely is sufficient to prove disability.

The more typical rationale for granting disability for Claimants under the age of 50 is that the effect of his or her pain, pain medications, and frequent flare-ups would so decrease his or her productivity, that the Claimant would be unable to sustain work.  The argument is that while at work the Claimant would be unproductive because of pain and/or pain medication.  Additionally, the Claimant might also miss a lot of work due to flare-ups of his or her condition.  If the Claimant cannot sustain full time work, he or she would be found to be disabled.

For Claimant’s over age 50, the road is a little easier.  Such a Claimant will be granted benefits if the Claimant:

 

  • cannot do his or her past work,
  • has a restriction to only sedentary work (i.e. desk work), and
  • does not have transferable skills to sedentary work.

For example, a 50 year old Claimant who has worked construction his entire life and now can only lift 10 pounds because of a back impairment would be found disabled.  The Claimant could not return to construction work with a 10 pound lifting restriction.  A 10 pound lifting restriction would only allow the Claimant to do sedentary work.  Finally, during the Claimant’s years in construction, it is doubtful that the Claimant acquired skills that would transfer to a sedentary work setting (e.g., like an office).

David Galinis
Managing Partner – Estates and Social Security Practice
Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLP
481 N Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030
dgalinis@bsgfdlaw.com
www.BSGFDlaw.com
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256 Responses to Back Problems: The Most Common Source of Disability Claims

  1. karen rutledge says:

    I am an associate degree RN. I am scheduled soon to have back surgery. The procedure includes L-4 laminectomy; L-4-5 fusion with interbody cages, pedicle screws, morselized allograft/autograft. diagnosis is L-4-5 cyst/spondylisthesis. symptoms include low back pain radiating into both hips and down both legs with episodes of numbness/tingling. my concern is that i will not be able to return to the type of nursing i am accustomed to and with only an associate degree, my choices are limited. i am not sure if attempting to pursue a higher degree would be of any benefit. but would do this if it meant continuing my career down a dfferent path but remain in nursing. facing this surgery has me wondering seriously if i even have a career anymore.

    • dgalinis says:

      Karen,

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your pending surgery. While you didn’t necessarily ask of my thoughts, here they are. Focus on your surgery and recovery. Think positive and hopefully you will be returning to nursing in no time. If that’s not possible I would be more than happy to discuss Social Security Disability with you.

      David

      • christina wilson says:

        David I had a multiple spinal fusion done on L2 L3 L4 L5 with all the hardware included. S1 has no disc and is covered with exposed nerves plus I have narrowing of the spine. No insurance and i am currently awaiting a ODAR hearing. I am in pain on a daily. I take 4 extra strength tylenol every 4-6 hrs. I have been denied bcus I had the surgery…What are your thoughts about this…

  2. Ian says:

    I have been working in a production/manufacturing field for several years. Prior to that I was behind a desk doing data entry. Within the past 5 years, I have had issues with my back “going out” as you put it. X-rays confirmed my T-7 vertabrae was dislocated and that I had Degenerative disc. I had no issues with my back after that discovery and the disc being put back into place by a chiropractor. However, I am now back in the same boat. This time however, I have been experiencing pain in my buttocks, followed by pain shooting down into my left leg. I also have been finding it impossible to lift my arms for any length of time above my shoulders. For the past 8 weeks, I have been on a strong narcotic pain killer and a strong dose muscle relaxor that when I’m on either, I find myself disoriented and have difficulty focusing on anything for any length of time. I am scheduled to have new x-rays taken and have been suggested that I file for disability. Like what you’ve written here, I too cannot stand or sit for more than 30min at a time, but also find it difficult to maintain a walking pace for more than a block before having to lean against something. I’m fairly young yet, so having to file for disability has me a little on edge.

    • dgalinis says:

      Ian,

      Thanks for your comment. Based on your complaints, I would hope that you have been referred to a specialist (orthopedist or neurosurgeon). When I analyze claims, I am looking for evaluations from those types of doctors. As a very general rule, a younger individual with back problems that are not severe enough to require surgery has a pretty tough case to prove before the SSA. I would certainly be willing to talk to you in more detail if you want to give me a call.

      David

  3. Stephanie says:

    I have had Spine fusion at L5-S1 and now have found to have nerve damage in my leg. There is a burning numbness in my feet and legs. I can not feel much in my leg or foot, I am only 34 and I was wondering if I should file for disability. I was a C.N.A since I was 16 years old. I feel like there is no where I can turn for help and the doctors act as if I don’t matter and I am getting to the point where I am tired of it all. I can not work and I feel like if things would be better if I just left and never returned. Please help if you can.
    Thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Stephanie,

      Thank you for your comment and I am sorry that things are so difficult at present. A failed back surgery can often be the cause of disability. At your age, however, you would need to to prove that you can not return to any work – not just your prior work as a CNA. This may be because the level of pain interferes with your ability to concentrate or sustain full time work. It also could be because you must lie down or recline during the day to relieve pain. Assuming that you have, in fact, stopped working I would recommend that you apply for benefits. If you would like my assistance, you can call our office at 1-800-827-2667.

      David

  4. David McCallister says:

    Hello
    I am 52 years old, and by the last SSA statement in 2010, it did show I was qualified to receive disability payments.
    In 2004 I was diagnosed with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety disorder, which explains my ability to concentrate and focus.

    Since the age of 18 I have been suffering with chronic back problems. I found out in 2009 that I have had a moderate to severe double twist curve in my back which probably has been the cause for the recommendation for me to have a L-3 – S-1 fusion when I was 19 years old, a total right hip replacement in 2001, and right hip revision surgery again in 2010.
    I can no longer sit for more than 30 minutes before I start cramping or having to rush to the bathroom, I have never been able to stand for more than 10 minutes, nor walk for any distance. Now I am also experiencing difficulty breathing as a result of vertebrae pushing on my chest.
    I need to know how to present my case in a way to show SSA that these problems have progressed to a point where I cannot work anymore, as I don’t really have a defining date. Over the last year, my back problems have progressed to where I can’t work. What would be the defining date? When I received the dianosis, when I was fired because of my ADHD in 2008, or when I noticed the onset of the additional problems with my cramping and bladder problems.
    Thank you so much

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your comment. Your “defining date” is referred to as the “alleged onset date” by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is the date which you allege that you became unable to work as a result of a disability. In general you should pick the earliest date that you were not working as a result of disability. SSA may accept that date or determine that a later date was the first date that the combinations of your medical impairments satisfied the SSA criteria for disability. In either event, choosing the perfect date should not stop you from applying if you are not able to work because of your medical conditions.

      As to how best to present your case, that’s my job. I would be happy to talk to you about representation if you are interested. Our toll free number is 1-800-827-2667.

      Sincerely,

      David Galinis

  5. Lynne OKeefe says:

    Hi David!
    My name is Lynne and I have been dealing with acute pain in my lower back and left leg. Also, 3 years ago after an MRI it was sicovered I have 3 degenerative discs in my upper spine area which causes pain and numbness in my hands and now have noticed some in my feet.
    I have worked in the Retail business as a Make-up artist for 45 years and being 65, all those marble floors have taken their toll on my body. I was wondering if you could explain to me, how I would go about getting disability . I do not recieve SS untill I am 66 and 10 months. Thank You so much for your response.
    Lynne O’Keefe

  6. Lynne OKeefe says:

    Thank you so much David for your feedback and I will definitly take your advice.
    Sincerely,
    Lynne

  7. Trish Rohal says:

    Last summer (2011) I had 2 discectomey surgeries. I was still in pain, barely able to walk, sit or stand. I had to go back to work because I needed to be paid. I got a bad review because I was out for 4 months, and am awaiting to get my more than likely minimal pay raise in July. I had a neurostimulator implanted almost 2 months ago. While it does help a little, I am still in pain. I am not able to sit long and while I try to walk without the cane because I am embarrassed because I am 44 I still should be using one. I am still on morphine as well as many other drugs for my condition (radiculitis) and it appears I will never get off of the medications. I cannot wake up in the morning and am late to work every day. I have problems focussing because of the medicatons I am on. By the way, I also have anxiety/panic attacks and colitis, which have been going hand and hand lately because of me always worrying about my job. I think it is ridiculous that Ihave to not be working for Social Security to not look at me because I have been trying to maintain a normal life, but it is becoming more and more difficult. I have sleep apnia also and unfortunately for my husband because I am so exhausted from my day my machine doesn’t seem to work well for me anymore. I need to know what my options are. Can someone please help me?

    • dgalinis says:

      Trish,

      Thank you for your comment. The impairments you have are serious and may support a claim for Social Security Disability. However, the law is very clear that if you are still engaging in “substantial gainful activity,” you are not considered “disabled.” Thus if you continue to work and make $1,000 per month or more, any claim for Social Security Disability benefits will be denied because you are still engaging in “substantial gainful activity.” If you were to stop working, you may very well be eligible for benefits. The process to get those benefits takes, on average, 6 months to 2 years. Unfortunately, many people who meet the medical criteria simply cannot afford to stop working for this length of time.

      If you do stop working, I would be more than willing to assist you in your claim.

      David

  8. Steven Everett says:

    Hello David (and all readers!),
    My name is Steven. I have had back problems since I was in high school. I played football and squats were a mandatory lift during weight training. I believe this is where my problems began. As a result of a pain I would get in my back I would crack my back during school on the desk (seems like they made those desk perfect for that!)

    Graduated High school and went and played football for a community college fairly close to home. Still had the cracking my back habit and has since spreaded to me cracking my neck too. During practice one day I had got tackled inane landed sideways on my shoulder and arm l, which hurt my shoulder blade. Trainers put me in a sling for a week and that was it.

    I’m only 22 now, my back and neck hurt BAD all the time, they are constantly reminding me the pain is there. I have taken others people pain killers before and although they help with the pain, I don’t like usin those. I have a 6 month old son. I am terrified to go see a doctor about my back because I do not want to hear I need surgery because that’s something I don’t think I can do. I have yet to see someone get out of back surgery and be 100% . I want to play ball with my son take him fishing etc. I don’t know what to do

    The pain I have feels like my back is compressing on each other, like if some one can pull my top half and bottom half of my body apart. My legs and arms go numb occasionally. I have two Huge what seems like knots in my back which never go away. I know I need to see a doctor, but does anyone know what it would be? My email address is Everett.24@gmail.com if you or someone you know can help me.

    David… Would I qualify for disability, how would that work?

    • dgalinis says:

      Steven,

      Thank you for your comment. First, you need to see a doctor about your back condition. There are many treatment options that do not involve surgery. Second, without treatment, you simply have no medical evidence to support any claim for disability benefits. Finally, at age 22 we would need some fairly strong medical evidence to support a disability claim. The younger you are the more difficult it is to prove disability. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case).

      David

  9. Leslie says:

    Hi, I am a 53 year old woman with a back injury. 23 years ago I had a fusion L5/S1. It was work comp. Now after working 21 years in retail I have a dynamically shifting vertebrae L4. I went to my original ortho who told me it was due to stress transference from my fusion. I had some time off and therapy and I felt better then work increased my lifting and I left work 2’weeks after therapy and RTW unable to bend and in great pain. Since that time I have been unable to walk very far or stand long. I have lumbar stenosis and pseudoclaudication. I have a wc lawyer and it is a complex case. I applied to SSA because I have no income or wage loss and I am in pain, on meds and need to lie down a lot. I also need a mobility scooter but have no way to get one since I am in limbo with wc right now. I need to see my ortho because he does not know about the aggravation of my condition and it might hurt my SSDI case. I just don’t know how to pay for it yet since I’ve no hearings on my wc denials yet. Old and new jobs are denying my claims. I may need an attorney for SSD.

    • dgalinis says:

      Leslie,

      The interplay between Workers’ Compensation and SSA can certainly be difficult. It sounds like you have already applied for disability through SSA. Given your predicament, I think that was a good decision. If you are denied, I would be happy to represent you.

      David Galinis
      dgalinis@bsgfdlaw.com

  10. Leslie says:

    Thank you, I wonder, do you handle cases in Oregon?

    • dgalinis says:

      Because it is federal law, I can handle cases in all states. If the case ultimately requires a hearing, I have never been to Oregon and been meaning to! That being said, if you would rather have local counsel, check out NOSSCR, they can refer you to a Social Security lawyer near to you.

      David

  11. Maria says:

    Hi I am a 33 year old male, 6’3, and weigh 395 lbs.I was hurt on the job in 2002. I have a herniated disc at L5-S1, Nerve root compression at L-4, Ridiculitis down right leg. I also have herniated disc at C3-C4 there is an extension of disc spur complex into the proximal foraminal regions bilaterally, with mild left and right proximal foraminal narrowing, C5-C6 herniated, C6-C7 herniated, C7-Tl herniated and there is diffuse low T1 signal throughout the bone marrow. I have side affects from the medication I take that make me extremely tired, dizzy and difficult concentrating. I am diagnosed with migraines, sleep apnea, and anxiety/depression. I applied for disability and was denied. ” The reason they gave is this the medical evidence shows that you experience pain and discomfort. You have some limited range of motion in your spine. You have normal strength. You experience problems concentrating and staying on task. You do have severe impairments. However you retain the ability to perform work that requires no more than light physical demand and does not have strict production requirements. We do not have sufficient vocational information to determine whether you can perform any of your past relevant work. We believe you can adjust to other work.” That being said How far can they look back on your medical? They told me only a year is that true? Also, they were the ones who sent me for a mental evaluation should I get my own? My internist filled out a RFC but I dont think thy even looked at that. Help Me Please. I went to a lawyer but he was no help!

    • Maria says:

      My wife is Maria. I am Kevin.

    • dgalinis says:

      Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment. SSA will request medical records from one year prior to your alleged onset date (the date when you alleged you became disabled). As an attorney, I may request medical records from much further back in time if they are important. With regards to the mental evaluation, if you suffer from anxiety or depression, I recommend that you see a mental health professional for treatment. First, the treatment may help your condition. Second, in my experience, medical conditions for which no treatment has been received (i.e., evaluations only) are not considered as serious or disabling by the SSA. Third, medical opinions from treating physicians are better evidence before the SSA than an opinion from a doctor who saw you one time for a medical evaluation. For more information on how SSA evaluates mental illness see my post Mental Illness as a Basis for Disability: No Objective Evidence, No Problem.

      David

  12. kellie says:

    Hi,

    I am a 33 year old woman. I have had lower back pain for about 4 years before I finally demanded an mri. Every doctor that I would see(ER, Urgent Care, or general)just kept giving me pills. Finally about 2 years ago I had an mri and that is when the specialist called me to come in A.S.A.P. to her office. When I showed up a few days later see said that she didn’t know how I was walking soo good due to 3 bulging discs in my lower back. She said that I needed surgery but she did not recommended it due to my young age. I end up with a pinched nerve about every month to month 1/2. Last time I was out of work for a week due to the pain. I am in pain every day. I do not take pain pills during the day, they make me loopy. I have a high tolerance for pain. I am at my limit right now. My question is would I qualify for Disability even though I have not had the surgery yet? Thank you

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Kellie,

      First of all I apologize for the late response. Somehow I missed your comment until just now. Generally speaking, at age 33 with back pain but no surgery, the claim would be very difficult. (In no way am I recommending that you have back surgery ). At age 33 you must convince the SSA that you can’t even work as a Walmart greeter. That is difficult to prove at age 33. I certainly have represented claimants in their 30s with back problems. But in almost all of those cases their conditions were severe enough to require surgery (or surgeries) and, additionally, they usually did not have a good result from the surgery (or surgeries). Please also keep in mind that it would almost certainly be the type of claim that would require winning at the hearing level. In the Washington DC area it usually takes about 2 years from the initial application until a hearing. During that time period you could not work. I am not trying to dissuade you but it is important to understand before you go down the disability road, just how long and difficult the road is.

      David

  13. Vee says:

    Hi David,

    I am a 27 year old woman. I had surgery for scoliosis for a double curvature to my spine in my early teens. my upper back was fused and two rods were placed. Now, I’ve started experiencing numbness and weakness in both arms with some pain, and numbness and weakness in my legs. My neck/shoulder are hurting, as well as my lower back.
    I’ve discovered that both rods in my spine are broken and my lower curve is now back to what it was before the surgery.
    An MRI revealed thad I have degenerative disk disease, as well as bulging disks in my neck and lower back due to the stress from the earlier fusion.
    I have limited range of motion of my neck, as well as arms, weakness, and sensory loss of my fingers, most of my hands, and arms most of the time, causing me to fall at work several times. I can barely write legibally and it takes me forever to type. Whether I sit or stand, some part of me aches.
    From my symptoms, would I meet the 1.04a listing of nerve compression?

    • Vee says:

      Just to clarify, I’m still working, however my boss has been making comments suggesting that he wants to replace me due to me being a liability. I’m trying my hardest to make it through every day but every day gets a little worse. I am worried about everything. I also have no health insurance.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your question Vee.

      Proving that you meet listing 1.04 is very difficult. The MRI you referred to would need to show more than bulging disks. It would need to show actual nerve root impingement. However, please understand that the overwhelming majority of the cases I take involving the back or neck DO NOT meet the listing. By proving that you are unable to perform any type of work, we can win regardless of whether you meet the listing.

      All of that being said, if you choose to apply for disability benefits you would most likely face a long, hard road. First, you would have to stop working. Second, due to your young age, I would imagine your case would not be approved at the initial level. This would require appeals to get to a hearing. The process could easily take a couple of years. Finally, there are no guarantees that you would ultimately be successful.

      I am not attempting to dissuade you from apply for disability benefits. I am providing this information so that if you decide to apply for benefits, you do so with eyes wide open. I would certainly be willing to assist you, if you decide this is the right course of action.

      David

  14. TONY FARRIES says:

    hello,,i am 52,11grade education,and drove delivery truck and trash truck for last 15 yrs ,test show that i have deg dis des–,,spony–,,spinal stenosis — lumbar pain ,and had a fusion of the L3-4 , did all of the p-e-tharipy ,low back on both sides and mainly right leg hurts bad ,had a nerve block shot done but it did not help ,it have been a yrs now and i go to a C-E-exam this week ,still in pain cant sit stand or walk for about 30min best ,low back and leg burns bad ,straight leg test is a positve, do you think i stand a good chance to get SSDI ,,,THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK HERE ,,,,TF

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. Based on your age, education and prior work experience I do believe you have a good chance to obtain Social Security disability benefits. It is important that your doctors have limited you to sedentary work though. If they have not done so (or been asked to do so) that needs to be rectified.

      David

  15. leya dodson says:

    Hello, I am a 43 year old woman that was involved in a motor vehicle collision. As a result of the collision, I was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar bulging discs with both of the discs being compressed on nerves. I have pain, numbness, and weekness that radiates down my complete left side. My medical records do indicate that I am positive on leg raises and they do indicate that surgery is recommended for relief of my pain. I take medication that makes me dizzy and sleepy and I am not able to concentrate on anything. I lost my job of 71/2 years because of my condition. When I was at work I could not concentrate on tasks and I had trouble walking and standing. This was a requirement of my job for at least 4 hours of my work day. I also had extreme pain while sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time. I was not able to have surgery to try and relieve my symptoms because I did not have job protection to cover the time out of work. I used up all of my FMLA leave when the collision occurred. Now that I do not have a job, I do not have medical insurance and surgery is no longer an option for me. I can not work a job because of my condition. Do you think that I would qualify for SSDI? What would be my changes of being approved?

    • dgalinis says:

      Leya,

      Thank you for your comment. First, make sure you have explored the options in your state for obtaining medical insurance either through Medicaid or a state health insurance program for unemployed individuals. With the symptoms you describe it sounds like you really do need the proposed surgery. Second, I think that you may qualify for disability benefits. Given that there is absolutely no cost to file an application, there is no down side. I recommend that you apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. You can do so online.

      Good luck. If you need additional help, feel free to contact me.

      David

  16. Hi David!
    My name is James, and I have been having back problems for about a year and a half now or so. it started in August of 2011 when I slowly was having back and left leg pain. I started seeing my doctor the same month when the pain was becoming more than just annoying, and starting to be quite painful. This was when I was 18 mind you. My doctor put me on tramadol and vicodin for pain. Finally in late August or early September I had an MRI done and my doctor was astounded. The tests showed that I had severe osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and congenital spinal stenosis, and I think 1 or 2 buldging discs and a herniated disc around the L3, L4, L5 area. The combo of the spinal stenosis, herniated disc, and everything else showed my nerves were being nearly pinched in half. The pain progressively got worse to where I could not get myself out of bed and had to require assistance. The pain got worse as well of course. When I was assisted out of bed it required about an hour until I could move without excruciating pain. I was referred to a spinal clinic, and got a spinal block in Nov. it only worked for about 1 week. I was then referred to a Neurosurgeon. I was recommended for spinal surgery as the amount of Norco and tramadol I was taking was the maximum amount and could not increase the dosage to my needs. By this time it was early Dec. and I was working 3 days a week still, and often tried calling in sick, but was forced to show due to scheduling at work or I would’ve lost my job. I struggled making it out of bed to work, and the other 4 days of the week I was bedridden from pain, even with the max amount of pain meds. I was taking 3 10/325mg norcos and 100mgs of tramadol every 4 hours. By Christmas day 2011, I got off work, went to bed, and could not get out of bed. from that point until my surgery on Jan. 13th, I was bedridden except every other day I would force myself to get up and make a bowel movement. That was the only thing I could get myself out of bed for, even urinating was done in a collection bottle in my bed. I could not sit up properly in bed, and could not roll from side to side, I was stuck laying down on one side of my body. My surgery took care of the Herniated disc, I think it was a laminectomy/diskectomy combo. Was out of work from Christmas 2011 until April or May of 2012. No leg pain since, and up until recently I had no back pain. the back pain I have now doesn’t not feel like nerve pain, more like extreme joint pain or the like. it has gotten so bad I can’t sit or stand more than 30 minutes at a time, and cannot bend over unless I grab something to support my self. Cannot lift anything two handed off the ground. Often I have back pain just standing or walking that requires rest or laying down to relieve. I tried applying for disability before I returned to work, and was sent a response in August 2012 that I was denied for the reason that I have not worked long enough under SS, although when my Dad passed in 2007 I received survivors benefits from SS until I graduated in June 2011, and have letters from SS saying if I become disabled before the age of 21 that my benefits would continue under his earnings, not mine. When I went to my local SS office, they told me that the reason they denied me was not that I hadn’t worked long enough, but that I failed to turn in my Adult Disability Report. I have copies of every form or paper I submitted to them and I turned the ADR in.I think they are trying to give me the run around. Any advice on what should be done or what I could do? (On a seperate note, I have been diagnosed with depression, and am trying to be diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, as it runs in my family and I have all the symptoms, including extreme depressive and manic states very frequently. Wanted to mention in case that would change anything.)
    Thank you ahead of time for any help on this matter. :)
    James

    • Also, I was using a cane (an 18 year old with a cane was a sight to see) from about Sept. to Christmas Day. Could not walk without it.
      and I have never since everything started made more than $1000 a month except for the (very) sporadic shift I would cover, and usually even then I would not make over $1000. I have been working at the same place since August 2011, and unless I cover an extra shift (very rare) I work 30 hours a week EVERY week. At 30 hours a week with no extra hours, I make about $870 a month BEFORE taxes.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear James,

      Thank you for your comments. I was away last week and apologize for the late response. It is very common for SSA to lose documents, this does not surprise me in the least. I would recommend filing your appeal (either a Request for Reconsideration or Hearing) within 60 days. You will have another opportunity to complete the “Adult Disability Report.” With regards to the merits of your case, your age makes the case difficult. See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case. The evidence that you must have is from your current treating doctors indicating an inability to work in a full time capacity at any occupation. Because of your age, the standard will be any occupation (think of really light work) not your past work.

      David

  17. Joe says:

    I have 7 bad disc 3 herniated and nerve dammage to both my legs. I also suffer from post drahmatic sydrome and ADHd. I haven’t worked since Feb 2009. I worked until my body gave out and I now spend 95% of my time in bed due to pain and I can’t sit,stand or walk. I can’t even do things around the house at all.I will be having spinel fusion this summer. I’m 38 and was a welder fabricator all my life. I do have a assoates degree in computers but I can’t do any of it or remember it. I’m so depressed how could they denie me? I hired a law firm and have a hearing with a judge soon. Do you think I’ll get disability? I worked over 20years of my life. c3-c4 disc are hurting me to. I don’t sleep. I have over 18 years of medical docs proving I’m getting worst up to date. I will be facing many surgerys on my spine.

    • Joe says:

      Thank you

      I think it’s sad people have so much wrong and get denided. I lost everything I ever worked for cuz of this. I’d trade it all to have my life back.

      Thanks again

  18. Susan says:

    David,
    I am 31 years old. I can not stand the thought of talking someone face to face at the possibility of disability. I had 2 herniated discs, and was found to have beginning stages of spinal stenosis. I tried to ignore this pain I was having and keep working , but it was getting to where I could not even walk. Doctors would periodically put me on steroids so I could walk again and I would not lose my job. I finally had enough of that and went to see a neurosurgeon. He told me that the only way to correct my problem would be through back surgery. I admit , I am not the brightest crayon in the box, and when you talk to me you have to be pretty plain and simple. He told me , the surgery would get me walking again , relieve my leg pain but I would always have back pain. I remember thinking back pain? My back pain was not as bad as the leg pain so I did not register anything in my head beyond that, I was just focused on please help my leg pain. SO I agreed to surgery. He did L4-L5 fusion. I had this surgery on Jan. 18 ,2011. I had to quit my job in Sept, 2012 , I just simply could not do the work no more. Standing consicutively was just to much for me any more because of back pain. I cant bend over like I could before the surgery?!? My right foot still goes numb,and every so often I do get a pain my right leg again, and sometimes when I am walking its like someone takes their hand and grabs my spine and jerks it back and forth (if that makes any sense) I actually got so concerned I had a MRI done again and went back to see the doctor who did the surgery,fearing maybe I somehow missed up what he did and he said my back looked like it should. How am I having all these problems? I am worse than I was before the surgery with the exception of , I do have less leg pain. I am fixing to go see a doctor about my now forming knee pains . I feel like I am a 80 year old in a 31 year old body :(

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Susan,

      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear that the surgery was unsuccessful. Not being a doctor I cannot comment on why you are still having problems. As an attorney, I have certainly represented many people who have had little or no relief following low back surgery. If your condition remains the same, you certainly may be a candidate for Social Security Disability benefits.

      David

  19. Kay says:

    Hello,

    I have filed for SSI as of March last year. I have autoimmune (Hashi’s and unspecified) PTSD, Degenerative Disc Disease at the cervical spine (moderately severe spinal stenosis and cord impingement) and at the lumbar spine (Beginning stage DDD, with two bulging and one herniated disc leading to recent dx of lumbarsacral radiculopathy). My stenosis is worsening and my doctor noticed my left side is weaker. I have PTSD from a lifelong chronic abuse. I’m somewhat isolated but completely decompensate when exposed to authority figures, criticism or any form of abuse. While I have other issues, these two completely disable me. I’m on very strong pain medication that makes me feel very groggy, foggy and tired. I cannot function without it due to my radiculopathy in my lumbar spine. I’m having random symptoms suggestive of myelopathy that have worsened in the last year. I see a neurosurgeon next month and am at the reconsideration stage of my SSI claim. I have a cane and need it at times to walk to keep my balance or because of pain.
    I am one of the 49ers. I will be 50 in November. I have not worked for 20 years. I was a student in college, going for a master’s program when I became ill with autoimmune and cervical spine symptoms. I had to drop from school. My PTSD was diagnosed nearly two years ago. I’m currently in a decompensation episode due to expose to abuse (not by choice) again.

    My attorney’s are trying to hold off a decision about my claim until I see a neurosurgeon about my spine. I have had an MRI that shows my stenosis and cord impingement.

    What are my chances, do you think, having read this? I realize that you’ve not seen the entire record, as there are other illnesses I have, such a fibromyalgia, but the spine and PTSD make that look like a walk in the park.

    Thanks.

    Kay

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Kay,

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad that you have an attorney to assist you in this matter. Competent counsel in these cases is of supreme importance. It is very difficult for me to provide any opinions as to the strength of your case, I encourage you to discuss this with your attorney. Keep fighting though.

      David

  20. Victoria Galusha says:

    I have had back pain since 2004 and its now 2013 Im only 26 people are wanting me to file SS And Im not sure if I can do that being only 26? I have 3 young children and I have a hard time doing day to day life things with them. I did work in a nursing home for 6 years and just not able to do that anymore or much of anything.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Victoria,

      Thank you for your comment. If your back condition is serious enough to prevent you from being able to work in any capacity, I would recommend applying for disability benefits. It does not cost anything to apply and you can do so with or without an attorney. You can apply online: SSA Disability Benefit Application.

      David

  21. Daina says:

    Hi David thank you for your wonderful, helpful info! I’m Daina :) I am waiting for a verdict on an SS hearing. I am 52. At the hearing the lawyer and judge changed my ‘grid’ to the onset of my 50th birthday. I worked 28 years as a dental hygienst/assistant (22 years as an RDH). I have 3 bulging lumbar discs/w/annular tears, sciatica, DJD and fibromyalgia all confirmed by 3 years of medical records. I am terribly depressed and anxious and have ADD and am bipolar (those records were too old to help). As I am indigent I was unable to get any further diagnoses. My dr wanted me to see a neurologist, psychiatrist, have a test for Lupus..but I was unable to do that. My claim is based on an ability to do any work due to extreme pain, widespread, I cannot sit or stand for any length or time due to pain in my back and legs and sometimes hips. My upper back has huge knots and curls over i cannot sit up straight. I am basically bedridden…and all of this was told to the judge. I am only eligible for SSI since they changed the law to working 5/10 years I first applied in 03 which seems so unfair! Anyway, do you see any hope here for a positive verdict? I’ve been waiting for 2 months and they said the verdict would take 2 to 4 months and my anxiety is terrible, I have to live with a friend as I am also homeless! And the 3 years of dr records came from friends who pitched in for my visits and a small settlement from a severe auto accident in 09 (when the really horrible pain came). Thanks for any help/advice you can give..I realize you don’t have a crystal ball :) but maybe you can give me some hope. I

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Daina,

      Thank you for your comment. I unfortunately do not have a crystal ball. The important thing was that you had an attorney to assist you at the hearing. If your attorney and Judge were talking about the “grids” that sounds like a good sign. I wish you the best.

      David

  22. Larry says:

    I am a 32 year old man with three bulging discs and one ruptured disc. I have severe pain on a daily basis that starts in my back and shoots into my legs along with extreme pain when I stand sit or walk for long periods of time and my leg and foot go numb often. My doctor informed me that I also have nerve root compression. I also have migraines and neck pain atleast twice a week. My doctor took me out of work almost a year ago because I could not make it through a whole day of work standing up and bending over. He also told me I should not lift more than twenty pounds. Do you think I would be eligible for Ssa benefits?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Larry,

      Thank you for your comment. At your young age, you must be able to prove that there is no work that you can do. See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case). A lifting restriction of 20 pounds by itself would not suffice as there are plenty of jobs (sit down jobs) which do not require lifting over 20 pounds. A treating orthopedist or neurosurgeon who is willing to indicate in writing that you cannot work in any capacity is crucial. Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss this further.

      David

  23. Marty says:

    I am 55 years old and had back surgery about 8 years ago. A discectomy. All of a sudden my back pain has returned and can’t sit or stand very long. I just had an MRI and it shows disc degeneration and disc bulging in several discs and a synovial cyst on nerve. I have a couple of appointments next week with neurosurgeons to see if surgery is needed. I feel like this is a situation that surgery or PT will not help in the long run. If after surgery and/or PT i still have symptoms where I can’t stand or sit for any length of time would I have a case for disability??

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Marty,

      I’m sorry to hear that your pain has returned. It is important to understand that difficulties standing or sitting for prolonged periods are not usually enough to prove disability. SSA believes that there are plenty of jobs that allow for a “sit/stand option.” In these jobs, the employees have the freedom to sit or stand at their option. Following treatment if you are unable to return to work I encourage you to speak to an attorney as there may be other residual problems (e.g., lifting restrictions or pain) which may support a claim for disability.

      Good Luck,

      David

  24. Chad says:

    Hi I came across this post and hoped you could give me advice on my case. I have 3 cervical herniated disc, a lumbar bulging disc. Also I was recently told I have disc degenerative disease. Along with my severe back pain I also suffer from a mitral valve prolapse,social anxiety and panic disorder and recieve treatment and medication which only helps a very little. I have yet to discuss it with my doctor but I believe I also have ADHD. I am only 28 and have opened a case for disability. My neck and back pain is severe and sends shooting pains down my limbs, causes bad migraines, numb limbs and pain during normal activities such as bending, walking or sitting for extended periods, even lying down is painful. I am on anxiety medication and pain medication. The medicine provides some relief but I get extremely tired out of no where and have to sleep. All of my conditions have completly reduced the quality of my life and ability to function in and outside of my home.Do you think a case like mine has a chance at my age? Thank you
    Chad

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Chad,

      Thank you for your comment. You are correct in discerning that your age is a challenging aspect of your case. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). Your treating doctors must support your claim that you are unable to sustain full time work in any capacity. If they do, you may be able to prove disability despite your young age.

      Good luck,

      David

      • chad says:

        The emg study said that i have L5-s1 nerve root irritation and C5-C6 overlaping C7. plus i have anexity/panic disorder that i take meds for
        they make me sleepy/tired throught the day my arms and feet go numd and tingle on and of all day . Would any of this help my case out . The neurolgest said the nerve root compression is perment . And iam to afraid of surgery . that would be the last thing i would ever do at a youg age @ 29 . Just woundering if anyof this new findings would help my case?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Chad,

          Thank you for your comment. Any objective evidence, such as an EMG, is helpful in a claim for disability benefits. At your young age, though, you must be able to prove that there is no work that you could do. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). I would have a discussion with your doctor about your ability to return to work.

          David

        • chad says:

          update I also have documents from my doctors stateing i can not ingage in any type of work meaning caint do anything on there he states plus now iam suffering from ocular migraines and get about 3 a week .some lasting 2-3 days and some that last 4-6 hours meds makeme tired and i cant function right anymore . if i have that stated from my doctor shouldnt i get ssd/ssi.

  25. Sheila says:

    I am scared about returning to work. I have a far left later L2-L3 herniated disc. I have seen an orthopedic,neurosurgeon,neurologist,pain management specialist(holistic and not),accupunturist and now physical therapy. I had my second nerve block 1 week ago. I am a contractual school nurse who must be able to lift 50 pound to return to work(I am 52). Every nurse job I have had has a lifting restriction. The back went out (not at work) and with in a month I saw a lot of doctors. The neurosurgeon hopes it will dissolve on it’s own in time. To operate means a risk of hitting the ganglion nerve causing more problems for a life time. I have improvement after the 2ND nerve block but still in pain. I might have to stay out of work until the next school year starting in Aug. My job is my medical insurance. if I can not return in Aug. I could be without. If I loose my medical insurance what can I do to continue medical care? Right now I need to figure out weather I can return the begining of May or not risk the last 6 weeks of work giving myself more healing time. I will be discusiing with the doctors soon. I am very slowly getting better but if I can do be an nurse(LPN) I have no other training. Please advise whty I can do to keep aware regarding medical insurance. I do have another small income source so I am not sure if this could keep me from disability insurance. Is there a disibility insurance and medical insurance for disabilities? To be honest I just want to go back to work for I really love what I do.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Sheila,

      Thank you for your comment. Your medical insurance options vary from state to state so it is difficult for me to answer your question. I would contact your local department of social services about your health insurance options. If you were awarded disability benefits from the SSA you would receive Medicare after a 24 month waiting period.

      David

      • David,

        Thank you for taking the time to reply. I have good medical insurance to date but if I do not return to work by August my fear is I will have no insurance. Mhy job is contractual but I have never felt like I would not have a job after school break. But if I can not perform my job in complete I am at a loss. I have many chronic pain diagnosis but due to good insurance I have used all methods of medical care to care for myself. I am aware there is a waiting period for Medicare but if I loose my insurance then I loose an ambundance amount of medical care that keeps me moving. I will contact my local social services to educate myself. I am going to keep thinking positive and continue all my treatments and care with the goal of returning to work in August! What do people do when they have a 24 month waiting period?

        Thanks again,
        Sheila

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Sheila,

          I personally believe the 24 month waiting period is a travesty. The law should be changed. Unfortunately, aside from whatever state level resources you can find, there are not many options for health insurance if you do not have a job.

          David

  26. Angel says:

    Hello, my name is Angel, I know for a fact that I am a difficult case, to start with is my age, which is 24. At 12 i broke my left arm in half, causing scar tissue to build up and leave nerve damage behind. At 19, while pregnant, i fell down a flight of stairs and dislocated my tailbone, which was pressing on my sciatic nerve for about 4 months. I also have psoratic arthritis over 80 percent of my body. To top all of this off, I have wolff parkinson white disorder which i have had heart surgery for twice, and after two years since the last surgery, it has come back again.Add to this, i stepped in a hole and partially tore the muscle that wraps from the back of my hip around my knee and attaches at the anterior tibial muscle and my leg is physically turning outward laterally from the hip down. I went to see a bone and joint specialist, who, after me telling them they couldn’t give me any kind of steroid shots whatsoever, (note the above heart condition) they proceeded to do so anyway which caused damage to the underlying tissues. this was a little over a year ago. Now, as i refuse to go back to the people who went directly against medical orders, i went to an orthopedic doctor who examined my knee and hip joint and ordered an mri of my leg, pelvis, and lumbar. Laying still was agony. I cannot lay flat on my back for more than five minutes without shifting positions, i cannot sit in any position for more than ten, or stand with weight on my right leg for more than ten, and walking is a disaster in and of itself. (i’m currently going to school to get my RN lisence and an office systems administration certificate) I have recently had to buy a fold-able cane to fit into my backpack/purse because the symptoms and pain can come and go at any time and my leg will just go out. I also suffer from clinically diagnosed ptsd, paranoia,panic disorder, and manic depression type II. I worked for three years in a phone sales company, which was sedentary, was recently fired from a factory job due to inability to physically do part of the labor the job entails. I have problems getting to my feet from a seated position, and from standing to a seated position. It takes me about 15 to 20 minutes every morning to get my leg to bear my weight. I’m unsure as to what to do, any advice would be helpful. I have read your post, and those after it, i have also read my local, state, and federal laws on the matter and understand them quite well. Also, i have, once before, filed for benefits for the arthritis and my heart and been denied. However, at the time i was not diagnosed with ptsd, panic disorder, or manic depression, only an unspecified nervous disorder.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Angel,

      Thank you for your comment. At your age you simply must have your treating doctors in your corner. Your treating doctors must be willing to indicate (in writing) that you are unable to work in a full time capacity at any job. My recommendation is to have these discussions with your doctors. If they are willing to support you, then I would consider filing again and/or hiring an attorney to assist you.

      David

  27. corinna says:

    hello i am a 39 year old that has had chronic pain in my back and radiating down my right leg. i have recently had a mri that reads as follows : 2 – mm disk bulges spondylosis and facet degeneration identified with annulus irregularities. L5-S1 3.5 mm central and slightly right paracentral disk protrusion and annulus irregularity mildly abuts the right S1 nerve root. bilateral neural foramen narrowing. prominent disk degeneration change in bone marrow. L4-5 disk bulge with annulus fissure. minimal central canal and mild subarticular recess narrowing bilateral neural foramen narrowing. L3-4 minimal disk minimal recess narrowing subarticular. L2-3 minimal subarticular recess narrowing 1 cm synovial cyst posterior to the right L2 facet. T10-11 2 – mm small disk protrussion and mild decreased anterior central canal. minimal posterior subcutaneous dependant edema. i have also been diagnosed with CTS with moderate to severe nerve damage to my left hand and cubital tunnel syndrome to both arms. right hip trochanteric bursitis i have diminished reflex in my right foot and my dr has ordered a cane . i cannot sit or stand for more than 20 minutes at a time and get little relief with laying down. i have a social security hearing in 1 week and i have no legal representation. in your opinion what are my chances of winning my claim?

  28. Petie Croft says:

    Hello!
    I am a 53 year old female and have 4 herniated discs, spinal stenosis, arthritis and claudication. I have worked as a dental assistant for 33 years. I am facing spinal surgery for the above conditions. I am wondering about the possibility of disability for these conditions. I am reasonably sure that I will no longer be able to be a dental assistant with the amount of bending and twisting involved in this occupation. I would appreciate your input.
    Thank you.
    Petie

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Petie,

      Thank you so much for your comment. First, I would tell you to re-evaluate after your surgery. If the the you have a really good outcome from the surgery you may not have a good claim for disability. Second, for Social Security Disability cases the issue is whether you can do any work, not just the dental assistant position. Proving that you can’t be a dental assistant is certainly a major part of the case, but you also need to be able to prove that you don’t have skills to do something less physically demanding.

      Finally, I really like your avatar. I have two GSDs at home myself.

      David

      • Petie Croft says:

        Dear David,
        Thank you for your input. I will take your advice and see what happens after surgery, after all advice from someone who likes GSD’s has to be good advice!
        Thanks again,
        Petie

  29. Justin says:

    RtHi I dont know if you’re still replying to these but anyway I am 20 and I had a bad back injury a while back. I was having severe pain down the back of my leg. I saw multiple doctors who did mri on my leg and didnt find anything. I finally took the doctors advice and went to physical therapy. As soon as I talked to my therapist my symptoms she knew it was a back problem right away. So I tried that for a few weeks and thd pain only got worse. I then went to another doctor who did an mri on my back which revealed 2 ruptured discs, one was 3/4 of the way out. He said the best course of action would be surgery. The weeks leading up to surgery were the worst of my life. I could not walk more than about 10 steps without bending over with pain. In the 2 weeks before my surgery I slept only 8 hours. Needless to say I was going crazy. So the pain got so bad they did the surgery about a week early. So now that the surgery is over im am having no more nerve pain but still back pain and a loss of some range of movement. I worked at a grocery store stocking previously. And I feel like I could only do 25 percent of the work I was doing before. My doctor also said that with the settling/premature aging in my back there’s a good posibility of this happening again. So to wrap this up Iknow im young and I just wanted to know if there was any sort of assistance I could receive since I pretty much already have the back of an old man. Thanks!

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Justin,

      Thank you for your comment. It certainly sounds like you will not be returning to work stocking groceries. At your age, however, the standard for disability is whether you can return to work doing anything, your past work is not really relevant. I wrote a blog on the importance of age in disability cases. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case). I think its probably time to start looking at lighter occupations or going to school.

      David

      • Justin says:

        Lighter occupations usually equal less pay. And I cant afford to go to school with all of the hospital bills. I was making 11 dollars an hour before and could barely pay my bills. So a pay cut would not work. And no where will hire me with my bad back no matter how light the workload is. So If I were to take a minimum wage job there is no sort of supplemental disability income I could receive? My doctor told me my back is gonna haunt me my whole life if I continue with heavy labor?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Justin,

          Unfortunately, the amount of pay is not a factor in Social Security Disability cases. There are also no “supplemental disability income” benefits from Social Security disability.

          David

  30. jamie rainey@fb .com the one with a joker picture says:

    i have ddd sponalisis retrolisthisis atrerolishisis narrowing of the spinal cannal just in the lower back also i hurt from tail bone to neck bone i have constant flare ups under went therapy and on strong pain meds that doesnt help i’m only 32yrs old and need some advice i am constantly missing work due to my back and am fixing to take shots ssi will not let me file cause i still work but i cry when i think i have 60 plus yrs to go what should i do email me or on fb with a picture of the joker cause i’ll never look at this page again please answer

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jamie,

      Thank you for your comment. Your age makes any claim for disability difficult. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). You would need treating physicians who are in your corner. That is, they would need to indicate that you have restrictions that will prevent you from doing any type of work. Even with that type of support the process could take 6 months to 2 years and, obviously, with no guarantee of success. My advice is to have a heart to heart with your doctors before you consider applying for benefits.

      David

  31. goldenrepartee says:

    First, I’d like to mention that I enjoyed reading your answers to the various questions in this thread. I wish you could read my mind. :-)

    My question: Could I be denied social security disability because I choose to NOT have surgery so that a diagnostic study (MRI) can be done that might lend more insight into my condition?

    Let me explain:
    In 2001, I had a L4-S1 fusion with instrumentation due to back pain from grade 1 spondylolisthesis. In 2006, I presented to the ER with acute back and leg pain with numbness. X-rays were taken and an MRI performed and I was referred to my orthopedic surgeon (OS). My OS suspected the disc above the fusion had herniated but the MRI was not readable due to the stainless steel instrumentation. I was prescribed epidural injections and sent to physical therapy to rehabilitate. Thus began the first in a series of “back episodes”. My primary care physician (PCP) has followed up for my OS and my pain is somewhat managed using anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and pain medications. Any “permanent” improvement is always hindered by relapse. My activities have been substantially reduced and among other things sitting for periods of time is painful.

    In 2008, my employer allowed me to work remotely from home due to my back condition and other health issues. I worked remotely from home until 2011 when the business closed and I was layed off.

    Fast forward to 2011. The Diagnosis: Adjacent segment disease. Basically the disc above the fusion is worn out. I have progressive episodes of chronic relapsing back and leg pain about 4 times a year with each episode lasting several weeks. Not much reprieve.

    In December of 2012, I filed for disability with the following conditions. Arthritis (general OA but severe hands), Degenerative Disc Disease/Adjacent Segment Disease, Fibromyalgia. I was denied disability last month due to the condition not being severe enough with the decision stating that I could work as a administrative assistant. I am working on the reconsideration.

    Finally, after last weeks examination of positive straight leg raising on the left and negative on the right, deep tendon reflexes hypoactive bilaterally, my OS sat down with me and discussed possible treatment strategies. He indicated that if I felt I could not continue with my current course, he would recommend hardware removal so that I could have adequate MRI imaging of the L3-4 level as well a levels more proximally, in addition to adequate visualization of the tissues around the L3-4 as a lateral approach surgery may be necessary. Yikes, I want to wish this all away!

    Obviously, I will eventually need to make a decision on how to proceed. Meanwhile, could I be denied disability on the reconsideration because I choose to not have surgery now? I don’t plan to let the answer to that question persuade me in making a decision regarding surgery but…. I’d like to know.
    Thank you so much for wading through my “story”. Oh, I will be 58 by the end of the year.
    Thanks again.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. I doubt very seriously that your decision not to have surgery would be the reason for a denial. So long as the refusal to undergo additional treatment is reasonable, it should not be a concern. Your decision not to have the surgery appears reasonable to me.

      David

  32. Saanvi says:

    Hi David,

    i am having severe lower back pain, MRI report conclusion was lumbar spinal stenosis. My doctor advised me to quit job as i will be sitting for long hours in a day and told to go for physiotherapy… Should i really need to quit my Job???

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Saanvi,

      Thank you for your comment. The decision about whether you should continue to work is a both a medical and a personal decision. If your doctor indicates that continuing to work will be a danger to yourself or others, I would heed his or her advice. If not, then it is probably a personal decision regarding your ability to tolerate the pain. The other factor to consider is that the choice may not be yours. If you cannot perform your job duties because of your condition, you may be fired as a result.

      David

  33. Kaye Wilcoxon says:

    Hello David,
    I am so thankful I stumbled upon your site. I am a 43 year old female industrial electrician. I suffered severe hip and sciatic pain in my right leg for about a year and a half. I lived with it until my foot started going numb. My x-rays and MRI showed a bone spur and herniated disc but didn’t look extremely remarkable. I awoke screaming in agony one night in November of last year and couldn’t move. 2 epidural injections didn’t help much. EMG showed severe nerve damage. I had a microdiscectomy in January. Most leg and hip pain went away. I still have numbness and weakness in my foot. My back started hurting worse a few weeks ago. The neuro did an X-ray and said there was much less disc left than they had anticipated and I could wait to see if the vertabrae would fuse on their own….if not i will need spinal fusion surgery. He then brought up my job and said any kind of work like that would not be possible anymore and I need to start exploring my options. No twisting bending, ect. I have been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in the spine, stenosis and ddd. I take narcotic pain relievers and strong muscle relaxers daily. He was very blunt about my inability to work but when I called the office asking for a fax that I could give to my HR department stating that fact, I was sent a release to full duty starting TODAY. I am,hoping this is a misunderstanding and I am still trying to get it all sorted out. He was actually the one who broached the subject of work and given the extremely strenuous nature of my job there is no way I can do it. My question is, disregarding that fax which I am pretty sure is a mess-up, do I sound eligible to you? Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

  34. Amanda says:

    Hi David,
    My name is Amanda, I am 44 yrs old, I went get x-rays done in march 2013 and it show I have scholiosis, cracks in my vertebrae, Arthiritis in my neck, so I was still havin this bad pain in my lower back so dr sent me to go get MRI done, that shows I have a protrusion disc in my lower back and that’s wt is causin the pain in my lower back or should I say in the buttock area, I hurt so much to sleep at nite my whole hip would hurt so bad that I can barely sleep, I never had surgery but dr want me see a neurosergeon but I have no ins, dr say prolly will need surgery to correct it, I’m hopin I can get a Medicaid because this pain I have is gettin worser, I WANA cry cuz it hurt so bad, can’t do nuthin I use to do, my yard work, housework, etc, I am the type that never depend on nobody but now I need help practically to do anything, so do you think I would get help with ssd or not, cuz it’s aggravating with a pain u normally don’t have, thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Amanda,

      Thank you for your comment. There is no reason not to apply as it does not cost anything but the actual time to complete the application. I assume that you are not working and not able to do any type of work.

      David

  35. Elisha George says:

    Hi there, I am 28 and in 2009 was in a car accident that started the pain I have in my hip at the time of the accident I was in pre term labor, and wasn’t to worried with that pain at the time after giving birth any confident move and I was in so much pain I could not walk, sit, stand, lay down etc. The only relief I have had was chiropractic care where they have adjusted my hip into a more normal state of alignment… This past November I was again in a pretty serious collision totaling the car, (not my fault this time either) I was again pregnant only this time very early in pregnancy now I am 8 1/2 months along and dealing with my hip popping in and out of place leaving my torso completely crooked and deformed looking the pain is a daily struggle, I am not able to pick up my now three year old daughter and have been seeking chiropractic care with a few report of findings, as well my doctors have me taking narcotics (hydrocodone) for pain during my pregnancy to try to alleviate some of the pain which is a very scary… how ever due to the pregnancy I have been un able to have an MRI or X-rays being that I already have a high risk pregnancy, please let me know if I would have a chance of getting disability I can not get a job and be a reliable candidate due to the pain and risks of my hip popping out of place… I have 3 children and one on the way very soon and not being able to provide is very heartbreaking being that I once was a very active person.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Elisha,

      Thank you for your comment. I suggest holding off on filing a claim for disability until after the pregnancy and you are able to get diagnostic testing performed (MRIs, etc.). The basis of disability for someone of your young age really needs to be supported by objective medical evidence (such as MRI results). At age 28, you must be able to prove that you are unable to return to any type of work. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case).

      David

  36. Robert Miles Jr. says:

    I am 30 years old. At age 25 I was diagnosed with Scoliosis. I was told my curvature in my lower spine is approximately 55 degrees and getting worse. I have been on Vicoprofin and Skelaxin muscle relaxer since the diagnosis. I’ve had herniated discs, bulged discs, stenosis, and severe burning leg pain. I am severely considering having the surgery done and I have an appointment for a surgeon consult at the end of July. I have been in the same field of work since I was 19. A mechanic for an injection molding facility. Its brutal on my back but its all I know. I was had another consult with a surgeon about a year and half ago and was told 6 months to 18 months recovery time. My current work place only offers 3 months short term disability. With a minimum of 6 months recovery time Im concerned what is going to happen in those 3 months or longer. Sure I can go on FMLA but that means no income. My wife doesn’t work and we have a 1 year old son to support. Can I get disability for a few months if I get let go because of my inability to return to work? Do I have any other options? Thanks in advance.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Robert,

      Thank you for your comment. You must be out of work a minimum of 12 months to receive social security disability benefits. There are no short term disability benefits offered through the SSA. For many people this is a true hardship. The lucky ones have a private (or employer provided) short and long term disability policy to fill the gap.

      David

  37. wayne says:

    hi David i m a 48 years old i have had neck surgery 2004 an i have a heart problem atrial fibrillation real bad i m on 2 different heart pill i also was injured on the job i my lower lumbar was injured i can t stand or sit for no more than 30 mins my legs are weaker do u think i get approve for my disability

  38. Cindy says:

    I am 38 years old and have had back trouble since in was 14-15. I have had bouts of my back “going out” ever since. I went to a chiropractor had x rays and was diagnosed with 4 degenerated discs and a compressed disc. (L3 L4 L5). I have documentation from 2003 until present and now it seems my back is getting worse. The pain has started to spread into my right buttock and right hip. Its hard to stand/sit for over half an hour, I shift position frequently, it is hard to walk, I can only lean forward, to the left and back so far and only lift my right leg about 3/4 inches off the floor from a sitting position now. I have to use mainly my arms to get up from a sittin position now because my lower back is constantly in pain. I hired an attorney right off before I even filed for disability. My appointment with a social security doctor is coming up, how hard is it going to be to get approved? I haven’t even been referred for an MRI yet.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Cindy,

      Thank you for your comment. I strongly encourage you to discuss your question with your attorney. Generally speaking, I think objective tests, such as MRIs, are really important in cases for younger individuals like you.

      David

  39. I am 37 years old and have been experiencing acute pain and neuropathy. I had an MRI which showed 3 bulging cervical disks, degenerative disk disease, and reverse cervical lordosis. Also degenerated right shoulder torn. My thecal sac is deformed and there is cord compression at multiple levels. My fingers go numb and my neck, shoulders, hands, and fingers hurt constantly. My lips and face tingle and My hand goes weak and i drop things. It is difficult to hold my head up most times and I am on strong narcotic pain medication that keeps me in a fog. I am diagnosed bipolar and have to take Thorazine in the evening to sleep due to severe insomnia and mania. All of the medication keeps me sedated and now that I am having neck problems my life has gone downhill. If I don’t take the meds, I hurt too much and if I do take them I feel drugged. I used to be able to garden and the vegetables produced I would sell for a small fee. I can’t even do that anymore. Am I eligible for SSI Dis?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you for your comment. Based on your description, I think a good argument can be made that you are “disabled” according to the Social Security Administration rules. As to whether you are eligible for SSD or SSI benefits, I would need to know more information about your work history and living situation. As there is no cost to apply for the benefits, I recommend completing an application. You can do so by visiting SSA’s website. See http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm.

      David

  40. Cindy says:

    Dear David,

    It’s Cindy again, I am scheduled for an MRI on Monday, June 24th, I started physical therapy and the therapist said my back was in bad shape and I had some nerve damage.

    I am supposed to have an appointment with a Social Security doctor on July 8th but, if I get the MRI and the Determination examiner gets those results, will I still be required to go to their doctor on July 8th?

    I am just wondering if they will cancel that appointment considering all the tests they will do would be kind of redundant since my therapist has already done them such as, leg lifts, bending and etc.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Cindy,

      Thanks for your comment. I think you will still need to go to the evaluation set up by SSA. For the record, your therapist’s opinions aren’t considered as persuasive as a medical doctor’s opinions.

      David

  41. casie says:

    Hi my name is Cassie and I am 26 when I was 19 I had so much pain in my back and. Legs I ended up having herniated disks in my lower back so I had to have back surgery there was no other option I couldint live in that pain anymore so after having it I ended up with have of my right leg numb my doctor told me it could come back or the herniated disks could have damaged the nerve sitt got a little better but never whent all the way away its a week leg and I get Charlie horses in it now it has been a few years since then I have worked but only for a short time because my back started hurting again my doctor told. The disk problem could come back and I was afraid it did so I went back to my doctor that did my surgery and he said I had no new disk problems but that I had arthritis all over my lower back so then few years pass then I had a baby and had a epidural and it didn’t take to well due to my back problem and now its been a year since I had my baby and my back is now hurting like it was before I had no choice to have the back surgery I cant sit stand walk for to long my legs hurt all the time from my back my bad leg gos out from under me sometimes and I am scared they are going to say I need a another back surgery and I think its just going to make it worse but I can’t work because of this pain so I was wondering if I could get ssi for this problem any advice would be great thank you .

  42. Jason says:

    Hello , my wife already gets SSD for her back condition but she was just released from the doctor and was wondering with her release restrictions will we lose SSD? She has had a failed fusion at the l5-s1 has severe pain in back and legs, numbness in both legs, she says her feet feel like lead weights, if i hit her feet she can not feel it, she can not bend over and only gets a little relief laying down, she takes vicodin, tramadol and flexeril for pain.

    Here is the doctor’s release,

    Return to modified work modifications listed below
    Recommended work modifications – 2 hour day
    no lifting greater then 17LBs
    sitting/standing/walking modifications – alternate every 30 min
    Sedentary work only
    Patient may not return to previous job

    That is what release says on it, note she can only work a two hour day

    and this is what her Functional capacity test states

    Work day – 1-2 hrs Sit – 1-2 hrs 25 min duration
    Stand – 1-2 hrs 15 min duration walk – 1-2 hrs Occasional short distances
    Above shoulders lift-Bilateral Occasional-17lbs Frequent 8.2 lbs
    Chair to floor lift – bilateral Not recommended
    Push Occasional-37.5 lbs Frequent – 8.9 lbs
    Pull Occasional-33.1 lbs Frequent – 8.9
    Carry – right Occasional 6.4 lbs frequent – Not recommended
    Carry – Left Occasional 4.2 lbs frequent – not recommended
    Balance- Minimally occasional which means 0 to .5 hrs She has balance issues
    Bend/stoop – Minimally occasional 0 to .5hrs
    Climb stairs – Occasional which means .5 to 2.5 hrs
    Crawl – minimally occasional 0 to .5 hrs Only with help getting on the floor and being picked back up.
    Crouch – Not at all
    All the hand stuff is Frequently 2.5 to 5.5 hrs
    Head/neck – Static Frequently 2.5 to 5.5 hrs
    Head/neck – Flexion Occasional .5 to 2.5 hrs
    Head/neck – Rotation occasional .5 to 2 .5 hrs
    Kneel – Minimally occasional 0 to .5 hrs Also with alot of help
    Squat – Not at all

    So what do you think?

    There is not any places around here she can only work 1 to 2 hours a day, and if she could how could she live off of that?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jason,

      Thank you for your comment. To prove disability you must prove that you are unable to engage in full time employment. Thus, if she can only work 2 hours a day, she is disabled regardless of her other restrictions. If she is able to work full time, then I would need to know more information to assess her likelihood of losing her benefits such as her age and prior work experience.

      David

      • Antwon says:

        Hello David, I was denied ssi recently and I was shocked when they did being I’ve had back problems since birth. Born with a block vertabrae vertabral anomilies with fusion L3 through T11.I have kyphosis centered about this region and dextroscoliosis centered about this region approximating 23 degrees. The spinous process appear diminutive. I was told by a dr. When I was 15 I had a birth defect in my spine and I should try not to lift heavy weight. I was a hard head and worked in hard labor warehouse jobs for 12 yrs straight until I couldn’t take the pain any longer. SERIOUS PAIN. I have trouble when I’m in the sitting position too. Not just from the muscles cramping and nerves hurting but also the bone of the spine itself resting on solid surfaces HURTS! I worked until the age of 35 until I tapped out in pain. I have difficulty driving medium to long distances and difficulty breathing when sitting. I also have hypertension and take clonidine but it still spikes back up at times! I have burning sensations in legs every now and then and my right hand burns and looses normal mechanics sometimes. It feels like it tends to want to form a claw shape or something. I can’t stoop or bend over with my back being the way it is. I’ve been stuck like this FOREVER. smh I also have muscle spasms all over my body. Even the sides of my head. Just recently I started experienceing blurred vision when reading or watching television. Do you think I have a claim? Thank u man God bless!

  43. Cindy says:

    Dear David,

    This is Cindy again…I got the results of my MRI yesterday. My doctor told me I have degenerated discs, bulging discs, a compressed disc and spinal stenosis. She has referred me to a spine and spinal surgery specialist. I called the disability examiner over my case and gave her this information so she could call and get the records of that from my doctor. She informed me that I STILL have to go to the doctor that THEY want me to go to because he will do mobility tests to see how mobile I am. That is fine if I have to go but, what I don’t understand is why? They have SEVERAL x-rays, doctor notes and doctor diagnosis, and MRI’s to support all of this. Is it just because I am under age 40? I am only one year away from 40 and walking, sitting, standing has become difficult. My sleep is disrupted with pain and numbness and I just really still don’t understand why they still want me to go to one of “their” doctors unless its solely because of my age.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Cindy,

      Apparently the disability examiner feels that he or she needs additional information. I strongly recommend that you attend the evaluation appointment.

      David

    • Jolynn says:

      Hello, I am 34 I applied for disability 8 months ago and went to their dr 2 months ago and I haven’t heard anything yet. I had anterior/posterior spinal fusion which didn’t help my back pain but I did get the feeling back in my leg. I get 12 injections every month from pain clinic as well as pain medication. I also had surgery on my elbow since it was Deteriorating. Now my other leg is going numb and the drs are wanting to do another back surgery. I’m just wondering why I haven’t heard anything yet and if I’m mostly likely to be denied because of my age. Thanks

  44. jay says:

    I am 31 yrs old and went through 2 disecktomies back in nov 2012 . i have filed for ssd and ssi 1 year an5 mnths ago. I have been unemployed since june 2012. Those two surgeries failed to fix the problem and my neurosurgeon want me too go through a fusion at l5 s1. and i agreed. it is schedualed for next month. i have a lawyer representing me and have to go to a alj hearing. my question is do i have a good chance at approval at my hearing or should i have waited for the fusion until i was approved or denied.

  45. jesse says:

    Hi my name is Jesse Im 30 years old I was repeatedly misdiagnosed with back spasms since I was 16 now I finally get an MRI and find I have 10 herniated disc in my neck and back varying in levels and severity but c4-5 along with t5 and 8 being large and causing impingement of my spinal chord causing deformities but every vertebra in my thoracic excluding t1 and t12 is herniated Im a cook by profession and it’s really all I know but I am having a hard time doing everyday duties I drop things I don’t get breaks to sit and the pain is severe and effects my mood concentration and ability to perform at my previous level ….I don’t know what to do Im thinking of trying disability but I feel bad for being so young I work through the pain but now I fear Im doing more damage?? Can you give me any advise Im destraught over it all and as a man hard to admit but scared I may work myself into a wheelchair

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jesse,

      Thank you for your comment. Your age definitely makes proving disability difficult in your case. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). Before going down this road, I would first talk to your treating physician and make sure they are willing to support, in writing, that you are disabled from any type of job. Assuming you have the doctor’s support, you will have to stop working in order to pursue these benefits. Given your age, it could easily see your case taking 18-24 months to get a resolution of your claim. Thus, you need to make sure you can support yourself for an extended period of time without working.

      David

  46. Lisa says:

    Hello David, I’m a 51y/o FM LVN Nurse for 30 yrs . I have worked FT with an agency lifting & transferring an 85 lb paraplegic patient for the last 7 yrs, I have also been treated for neck / back pain & migraines for 6 years by my primary care Dr. after being diagnosed with a deteriorating disc. I’ve maintained FT employment despite severe pain, numbness & tingling in arms & hands. Recently when my job required me to load & unload heavy wheelchair equipment into their van to transport my pt. I had to face my limitations physically. Also In the last yr. issues increased with mobility, walking, standing, sitting, lying down, bending, lifting, etc. So I’ve now resigned my position but did not file for work mans comp as I was encouraged to do by my chiropractor. I thought a month off to rest might improve my condition. Well it hasn’t improved, & Even driving causes a huge discomfort of shooting pain when extending my left leg. Also doing housework, standing & cooking, washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, even lifting clothes out of the wash into the dryer has continued to cause me aching discomfort. My Primary caregiver referred me to a chiropractor who ask me to have an MRI done.The results were Lumbosacral Neuritis Nos. w/ shallow central disc protrusion /L4 & L5 measuring 1.5cm in transverse diameter & 5mm in its anterior posterior diameter & slightly effects thecal sac but does not effect neural foramina. My chiropractor says it may not improve, but defiantly recommends not returning to my job nor ever lifting over 30lbs. He doesn’t recommend surgery (says it won’t help,) but did refer me to a pain management clinic for shots. I’ve checked the want adds & to my discouragement the LVN positions are now requiring computer skills which I’m very behind in along with lots of physical demands as it states in the job adds. I feel really concerned that nursing is over for me, & this is all I’m trained to do. Do you think I could qualify for disability? I appreciate any advice on this matter ~Blessings L.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment. Given your age and work experience, I do think you could qualify for disability benefits if you are permanently limited to sedentary work (i.e., no lifting over 10 pounds). However, I would recommend treating with an orthopedist or neurosurgeon instead of a chiropractor. Ultimately you are going to need an opinion from your treating doctor that you are unable to lift more than 10 pounds. The opinion will carry more weight if it is from a medical doctor who is a specialist with regards to the spine.

      David

  47. Lisa box says:

    Hi David I am 51 years old I was recently involved in a car crash causing two compression fractures n my back. On the MRI report I had several other issues with my back I am a casino card dealer were we r very active there is no light duty work option available I am concerned I will never b the same and will not b able to preform my work without being in pain I can not take pain medication during work because my mind has to be sharp do u think I have a disability case

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment. I simply do not have enough information to assess your case for disability. First, you have to be disabled for a minimum of 12 months to qualify for disability benefits. If the crash was “recent” it may be premature to file a claim. Second, what really matters is your permanent restrictions once you have fully healed from your accident. If at that time, your doctor’s indicate that you are unable to continue working as a card dealer you may have a case.

      David

      • Carol Keener says:

        I have an appointment with SSA next month. I have arachnoiditis, 2 failed back surgeries and severe facet disease. Doctor says surgery not good idea for someone with clumping of nerve roots arachnoiditis. I can’t stand for 20 minutes and have to move. I am on 2 pain medicines and sleeping pills. Doctors told me to file for SS. I am 48 years old. Everything is documented by MRI and doctors office notes. I have been out of work for 7 months. I hear everyone is denied the first time.

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Carol,

          Thank you for your comment. I didn’t see a question in your comment. About 60% are denied the first time though you have a relatively strong case as spinal arachnoiditis is included in the Listing of Impairments. (See No. 2 in my post above).

          David

  48. char says:

    Hello I had a fall on concrete 3 years ago and so far only being told I have lumbar radiculopathy .I have seen orthopedic, neurosurgeon, physical therapy, family Dr, pain Dr, and about 80 plus trips to chiropractor. .I am not getting any better with my meds, and nerve injection. Off and on I have to take oral steroid pack because the injection didn’t work. I can’t sit,stand, or walk very long at all without my pain kicking in. I get tingling in my arms, fingers, hands, legs, feet and back. Pinched nerve down my buttocks down my back leg to my foot. I loose my balance at times when I stand still or walk my work is terrible , im in pain the hole time, i cant work fulltime any more or my Pain gets so bad its takes days to ease up .I miss work alot because of my pain and mood my pain gives me.I cut down to 4 vhours a day and I still find myself in so much pain or so tired I can’t even work that . Ddriving is also a struggle for me. Where do I go from here? Thank you for your time.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Char,

      Thank you for your comment. If you are under 50, it will be difficult to prove that you are disabled (though not impossible). (See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case). And you need to take into account that if you stop working (which would be necessary to apply for social security disability benefits), it may be 6 to 18 months before a decision is made. You need to make sure that you can survive without working during the duration of your claim.

      David

      • Sandy DeJesus says:

        Hi. I am a 52 year old female. I had fusion surgery on L4-L5on 12/15/11. After my surgery I felt better for 2 months then my pain came back worse and shooting pain down my legs. I was unable to sleep cause the leg and back pains would wake me up while I was sleeping. I went back to my surgeon.i had so many tests done and he could not figure out why I was getting so much pain. He recommended me to another doctor. My new doctor told me I was a candidate for a neuro stimulator in my back. I had the trial installed and felt a little better. I went ahead and had the permanent stimulator put in my back. I filed for social security disability in 2011. I was denied before I had my stimulator. Waiting for hearing date I. North Carolina. Do you think will get approved.

  49. Bobbi Daniels says:

    Dear David, I AM ALMOST 58 AND Had AN MRI CONFIRM THAT I HAVE A HERNIATED DISC…LOWER BACK. MY MRI WAS DONE THRU A REFERRAL OF A Chiropractor. FOR SEVERAL YEARS I WOULD HAVE FLARE UPS BUT THIS LAST TIME WAS VERY INTENSE AND FINALLY MADE ME SEEK HELP. I CANNOT
    LEFT RIGHT LEG WHEN LYING FLAT WITHOUT SEVERE PAIN. I CANNOT STAND OR SIT FOR TOO LONG AND PAIN MEDS ARE A TEMPORARY RELIEF MECHANISM. I ALSO GET SHOOTING PAINS DOWN MY RIGHT LEG AND UP ON MY LEFT SIDE. I LEFT MY DESK JOB A YEAR AGO TO TAKE CARE OF MY HUSBAND AND THEN JUST AS I BEGAN LOOKING FOR WORK AGAIN MY BACK GOES OUT. I HAVE NOT SEEN ANOTHER SPECIALIST OR HAD OTHER TESTS DONE BECAUSE I HAVEN’T HAD HEALTH INSURANCE. I COULD ONLY AFFORD THE MRI AND MY Chiropractor. MY PRACTICING PHYSCIAN HAS ALL MY RESULTS TOO. AFTER TWO WEEKS I’M STILL RECOVERING BUT AM BEGINNING TO THINK I SHOULD FILE FOR SSA SO I CAN GET MEDICARE AND HAVE FURTHER TREATMENT. I FEEL STUCK BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ADDITIONAL MONEY. ORTHOPEDIC SURGEONS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Bobbi,

      Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the delayed response but was on a family vacation for the past 8 days. It will not hurt you to apply for benefits now. However, if you are still just a few weeks into the healing process it may be a bit premature. SSA requires that the medical condition prevent work (or at least be expected to prevent work) for a minimum of 12 months to qualify for benefits.

      David

  50. Geneva says:

    Hello i am 30 years old and i just wanted to ask a question? I will keep this short i have severe mood swings,depression,anxiety,i have had chronic neck pain for 5 years. now we found that i have spinal stenosis and narrowing of the spine this is on my neck. Now on my lower back i had a MRI done this year 2013 and it says i have 5 Lumbar vertebra L2-L3 and L3-L4 Slight annular disc bulge with mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing now for my L4-L5 moderate annular disc bulge with narrowing of the spinal canal and moderate bilateral neural foraminal narrowing i have been in pain all the time i get sharp pain in my back that also makes it when i walk for maybe a half of a block my cafe will hurt and gets really hard with a lot of burning pain if i force my self to keep walking my leg will claps underneath me. Would i be able to get my ssi. Please let me know what u think thank u very much.

  51. Tammi says:

    Hi my name is Tammi I am 41 and I have had server back pain all of my life I recently stopped working (6mo ago)because of the pain I have going to my family dr he ran test and xrays he sent me to an orthapedic dr the orthapedic dr told me that there was nothing wrong that I just had arthuritis in my lower back and I told him that I have scoliosis he motioned his hand at me as to say bologna and gave me physical therapy for 4wks and meloxicam for pain and he just walked out of the room I went to therapy it was making it worse so finally my dr ordered more test and it came back that I have thoracic lumbar scoliosis and degenerate disc changes of the L5-S1 does this qualify me for disability

  52. Diane Turon says:

    Hello, I hope you can help me. I am a 45 year old mother of three. I have been a stay at home mom for about 8 years.I have always had back and neck problems but never so bad I couldn’t work.I started suffering from severe migraines in 2008. I am seeing a neurologist but they also sent me for an mri to get my neck checked which causes severe pain. In 2010 my neck mri showed disc compression at c3andc4 and arthritis in neck bones.The past year my neck problems have gotten so bad that as the day goes on I can barely hold my head up past 2pm. I was sent for another mri 1 month ago.Radiologist confirmed with doctor he was very concerned my mri was much worse than before. c3c4 compression has gotten worse with disc protrusion. still have arthritis and now bone spurs.Would I qualify for disability? Thank you so much for your help and advice.

  53. Annette says:

    Dear David,
    My name is Annette, I have been a custodian for 17 years. I have L 2,3,4,5,6 bulging discs. I also have C 2,3,4,5,6,7 bulging discs. Two separate MRIs in 2011 and 2012 with huge bone spurs and severe arthritis. I am now having numbness and tingling in my feet, legs,hands, and arms. I am also having a deep tissue burning in my back. I had a really difficult time doing my job last year especially walking for long periods of time and climbing stairs. I have just turned 47 this month. Am I eligible for disability?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Annette,

      Thank you for your comment. I had a similar question recently and my answer is the same in your case:

      “Your MRI findings alone do not qualify you for disability. Based on your young age, any claim for disability will be difficult. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). You will need to prove, usually with the support of your doctor, that you are unable to do any type of work.”

      David

      • antricia says:

        i 14 years ago, I was in a car wreck when it happen just my leg was hurting.when I turn 22 my lower back started to hurt real bad, I saw a chiropractic and he said my bone connect to my spine is shape like a hook. now that I’m 33 my spine always hurt and now I feel it going down my left thigh..

  54. Lily Miller says:

    Dear David,

    Nearly four years ago, I fell down the stairs at work and landed on my backside and hip. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc L3 L4 , nerve root compression, and bursitis for my left hip. I continued working after missing 42 days of work after the initial injury. Over the past year, the pain has increased dramatically and I have missed a lot of work. I am currently on medical leave. I work at a job in which I sit all day long. I can feel the disc compressing into my nerve as I sit. The pain is severe and the nerve root compression affects my left ankle. Severe nerve pain in my ankle and I can’t sleep. I’ve had an abnormal gait since the injury and have drop foot. Now I can not sit for more than a few minutes at a time as sitting flares up the compressed nerve. I saw a spine specialist who told me I have an extra vertebrae, so instead of five I have six. He also said that I was misdiagnosed because of the extra disc and the herniated disc is L5 S1. The spine specialist told me the herniated disc is complicated by the sixth disc also causing pressure on the nerve. The specialist recommended Dynesys surgery. I am 48 and been employed with the same employer for 23 years. I have muscle atrophy and nerve damage in my ankle, so I can’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time. Walking is complicated due to weak and painful legs, abnormal gait, and drop foot. I take sleep medication or I would not be able to sleep from the pain. I am on several medications which causes drowsiness. Am I eligible for permanent disability? Will refusal to have surgery complicate my claim as I do not want surgery with screws in my back? I am a public employee and do not contribute to social security, but I contribute to OPERS. I have a pending claim on my approved worker’s comp case for recently missed work, and I have an attorney for the workers comp case only. I have never discontinued treatment since the injury nearly four years ago. The injury has worsened, which I believe was caused by continuing to work and sitting all day on the disc. I can not work. What do I do????

    Thank you, Lily

    • Lily Miller says:

      Also, I should mention that I have secondary medical issues. I suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression from child abuse issues. I am also on medical leave for these issues as well.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Lily,

      Thank you for your comment. First, you should contact the Social Security Administration to determine whether you are eligible for either SSI or SSDI benefits. If you have not paid into the Social Security system, you may not be eligible for benefits. Assuming that you are eligible for benefits and have stopped working, I would recommend filing an initial application for benefits. If your doctors are willing to indicate in writing that you are unable to do any type of work, I think you have a good case.

      David

  55. Karen says:

    Their are DDD at all lumbar levels as well as T11-12 and T12-L1? There is mild central spinal Stenosis at L4-5 level?There is mild bilateral facet arthropathy at theL4-5 and L5-S1 level?There are foraminal narrowing at mutiple levels. There is a cerebellum scist as well size of a dime

  56. audie thomas says:

    dear david have an interesting delima.i have had back trouble seems like my whole life.i am a 52 year old male with medical evaluations dating back over twenty years for 3 herniated discs.in febuary of this year 2013 i had yet another episode of back trouble.this resulted in my being let go as a maintenance man at my job.in febuary my back started hurting at work ,i told my manager that day i was hurting but there was no accident to report.as the weeks went by my pain only got worse.finally on may 13 i was called in to the office and summarily fired for poor job performance. i went to my family doctor who referd me to my original neurosurgeon ,had an mri and decided to do physical therapy.which has helped.the delima, i sighned up and recieved unemployement compensation since no doctor took me off work.i plan to file for ssi when my u.i. runs out will this hurt my case

  57. Joan says:

    Hello,
    I am a 38 year old women who has several advanced degrees mostly in education. Since 2010 I have had a tremor, weakness, and pain in my arms and hands. I also have problems walking and keeping my balance. I have seen several doctors and most first thought I had multiple scerolis because of my cognitive issues. After several mri’s, nerve compression studies, emg, and blood work doctors said brain was ok. My spine shows a multi- level degenerative change with an irregular protrusion and narrowing. An anterior thecal sac and both lateral recesses at c5-6. A small annular tear and right paramidian disk bulge at c6-7 w/o hernia or cord compression. I also have a small tear of the annulus filrous. I can not walk well because of pain and weakness in my legs. I have neuropathy in my right leg. I have speech, memory,and cognitive issues that bother me greatly. I have been seeing a therapist and take medication for adhd and aneixity. I also take medicine for migraines. I am in the process of filling out paperwork for ssdi but Ihavent worked since 2006…. Maternity leave. Do I have any chance?

  58. TJ Austin says:

    Hi David,

    I have always appreciated people such as yourself who offer their time and advise to others. Without going into the very lengthy details of my claim, I will just summarize my records (as much as I can) and hope that provides enough information to answer my question.

    I suffer from a rare disease of the spine called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). My SSDI/SSI claim has the following medical information/records:

    Last day of SGA: Sept 2001
    Diagnosed with AS: Oct 2003 (very late diagnosis)
    Date last insured: Dec 2006
    Applied for SSDI/SSI Dec 2009 (I submitted an AOD of Sept 2001)

    Primary Care Physician: Progress notes since 1989 documenting about 85% of every office visit was in reference to my chronic and progressive pain with my hip/back/neck. The progress notes read as a slow-moving example of how I suffered from Sciatica pain when I was 19 and constant pain radiating from my lumbar spine eventually leading up to my cervical spine to where I now (at age 41) suffer from fused SI joints, 4 areas of lumbar fusion, 6 areas of thoracic fusion, and 3 areas of cervical fusion. I was diagnosed with AS in 2003 through x-rays and blood work. The x-rays at that time showed a fused SI joint and the beginning stages of lower lumbar fusion points (arguably the bone spurs could medically be severe enough to be considered fused, but the radiology reports don’t exactly use “fusion” in their language).

    Rheumatologist: My PCP (falling in line with a very late diagnosis) didn’t recommend I see a Rheumatologist until Nov 2007. By then, I was already fused as stated above. My Rheumatologist affirmed my 2003 diagnosis of AS and commented how I more than likely had disabling AS as far back as 2001 (when I had to quit my lucrative job and move to another state to live with my parents again). She put me on Humira and became my pain management specialist by placing me on Oxycontin. Throughout the previous 5+ years, I was gradually changing and increasing pain meds up to the level I am now. She eventually suggested I apply for disability (for which I did Dec 2009).

    In applying for disability, I submitted 20+ years of PCP progress notes and 2 years of progress notes from my Rheumatologist. Each of them fill out a very favorable RFC report stating they do not believe I would be capable of working a consistent 8 hour work day because of the pathology of my “advanced” Ankylosing Spondylitis in addition to the heavy medication I am under. They both rated my total sit/stand/walk/work hours to roughly average of 2-3 hours. My Rheumatologist also submited a MSS stating how severe and advanced of a case my AS has become, and she adds how my inability to work began (at least) to the period of time I was still insured – before Dec 2006. I also have a recent radiology report measuring my kyphosis curvature at “approximately 42°” with a retrospective evaluation (based upon reviewing my previous x-rays I supplied) that my Kyphosis was also relatively the same (42°) back to April 2007 (which is 3 months after my DLI). The radiology report from Oct 2003 didn’t include the x-ray films because they had been destroyed by the time of my application, so that’s why the current radiologist was only able to retro-diagnose back to April 2007.

    This is where my question(s) appear:
    For the medical listing of 14.09C1, it notes a measurement of 45° (which I know is a static measurement of the Kyphosis curvature). My radiology report notes “approximately 42° with the apex at T8″. My chiropractor had measured it at 53° during the same time period, and he even used the suggested Cobb method of measurement. Considering the SSA would more than likely not accept the chiropractor’s measurement, how strict will the SSA be when it comes to accepting 42° versus the listing criteria of 45°? In light of everything else, do you think the SSA would credit 42° as meeting the listing? In my research of how the Kyphosis is measured, there is a medically accepted tolerance amount of 5° when it comes to the varying ways it’s measured including room for human error.

    I wish I had time to tell you the story of how the local field office really screwed up my whole claim by incorrectly entering my AOD as Nov 2009 instead of Sept 2001. Nov 2009 is simply my protected filing date, yet somehow the local field office mistakenly entered that as my AOD, and for over 3 years I have not been able to get anyone to correct that error.

    Thanks again…

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear TJ,

      Thank you for the comment. First, whether or not you meet the Listing should not dissuade you from pursuing your case. It is very rare that any of my clients actually meet a Listing. Based on your description of the medical evidence, I think you have a strong case for disability. Second, I really don’t know whether the chiropractor’s measurement will be accepted or what SSA will accept with regards to the measurement of kyphosis. In my experience, the SSA interprets the Listings very strictly. If the listing is not strictly met, ALJ’s at least very rarely find disability based on the Listing. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that the ALJ’s decisions are reviewed for error by the Appeals Council and they do not want their decisions overturned. Thus, if you don’t have evidence clearly meeting the Listing, I would focus more on the disabling nature of your condition – regardless of whether the Listing is met.

      David

      • TJ Austin says:

        Thank you for replying. I hate taking up anymore of your time, but I thought the following might significantly add to your reply.

        This part is about the AOD error I previously spoke about. As I said, I submitted Sept 2001, and the local field office worker wrote down Nov 2009. My claim was denied twice solely because of the incorrect AOD. Even the reconsideration decision said they didn’t even look at my medical record because (according to the incorrect AOD versus my DLI) that I was no longer insured. Of course if they have my AOD as Nov 2009 with a DLI of Dec 2006, it would appear I was no longer insured. This AOD issue stuck with me up until my second ALJ hearing. My first lawyer withdrew after the first denial (he is a horrible person). I wrote the request for review myself. The AC remanded my claim while instructing the ALJ to correct my AOD to Sept 2001 (which he didn’t). I was able to get another lawyer for the second ALJ hearing. There was an ME scheduled to appear. On my notice of hearing, I received a copy of the notice of hearing for the ME. He had a note stating his testimony would cover Nov 2009 to current. This told me that my incorrect AOD was STILL not corrected (this was after almost 3 years of this battle). Neither of my lawyers would listen to me as they must not have understood the importance of an AOD. I sent yet another complaint to ODAR. They turned my complaint into an exhibit.

        The ALJ opened the hearing stating my AOD as Nov 2009 – I almost flipped out. All my lawyer said was to suggest my AOD is Sept 2001. The ALJ still seemed as if he questioned my insured status for Title II. The ME testified by telephone. I was not given prior notice of this (my lawyer didn’t object). The ME is ONLY qualified as a child psychiatrist (my lawyer didn’t object). I found out the ME lives 4 miles from the hearing office and is 78 years old. My lawyer said he didn’t want me to speak during the hearing as he must have thought he had it in the bag. The ME spoke about 6 minutes (not including the 2 minutes it took to repeat half the testimony – the 78 year old ME is apparently half deaf too). It was apparent the ALJ only gave him access to my medical records from Nov 2009 to current. The ME ONLY mentioned 2 documents that happened to be dated after Nov 2009. These were the 2 favorable RFC’s I had. Even though the ME apparently had limited access to my record, he actually agreed I met listing 14.09C “even though there was no strict measurement of my kyphosis”, but he added that according to the pathology of AS, he would imagine I meet that criteria. The RFC’s are dated April 2010 (even though both have a retrospective opinion that my disabilities were present since 2001), the ME would only agree that I was disabled as of April 2010. Again, he did not mention any of the 800+ other pages of medical records dated before Nov 2009 (and of course my lawyer didn’t object).

        The ALJ granted my disability on the bench, but only as of April 2010. Somehow he and my lawyer tricked me into amending my AOD from Sept 2001 to April 2010. I was certainly in no clear state of mind at this time to understand what was going on. The ALJ somehow dismissed my SSDI claim and awarded me SSI (which I didn’t qualify for because my assets were a little over $2,000) – yet another detail my lawyer didn’t know. He felt because I was living with my parents again that I had no money.

        I mean the circus goes on and on from there to where I am now. I finally talked my lawyer into submitting another request for review. He submitted a short brief, 2 emails I had sent him after the hearing basically noting my whole claim in detail (with all the errors), and I found a federal appeals case that was awarded benefits that has the exact details of my claim. So, needless to say, I’ve become very educated with this process, and I’ve basically had to be the force in pushing my claim forward. I no longer feel I can trust my lawyer because of all that has happened, and that’s what makes me feel I have to resort to wasting the time of others online that are so gracious to offer their time. I just don’t know where I can go with all my concerns (which I think are very valid and prove a lot of questionable behavior).

        Can I get some kind of judicial investigation (outside of the AC review) for these types of problems?

        • dgalinis says:

          If the Appeals Council does not grant relief, you have the right to appeal to federal court. As you have legal counsel, I am not comfortable in commenting on all that has transpired to date.

          David

  59. Hi David,

    I’ve only been able to work 2 months at two different jobs since February 2012. I’d tried everything to stay at my employment but was in so much pain, I could not. I have been having pain in my neck, middle and lower back. Most excruiating pain is in the middle back in the thoracic area. I am female and will be 51 in September. My whole working career has been in office work. Secretarial, receptionist, and the last twelve years in medical billing. I am no long able to sit at my computer and type for very long. Just typing this, my middle back is on fire. I cannot hold my arms up for very long nor can I stand more than 10 minutes in one place without very awful pain in my middle back, lower back, and leg. I have weakness in my arms and tingling in my left foot. I also suffer from debilatating esophageal spasms, GERD, Gastritis, and Bile Reflux. I also have anxiety which I’ve been treated for for over 20 years. I’ve recently seen a neurosurgeon because I cannot stand the pain and I am unable to work. I had seen my PCP and 3 chiropractors with no relief. I’m not sure if I will have surgery as of yet. I see my surgeon tomorrow, but I do have the results of the MRI. I’m hoping you can give me feedback on the findings as I have filed for disability but haven’t received a reply as of yet.
    MRI RESULTS
    I have in the C-Spine, C3-4: Posterior midline disc protrusion (2.8mm APx 5.6 MM) tranverse slightly flattens the anterior midline cord. Canal is 7 mm AP Each Foramen is patent. C4-5 Broad posterior disc bulge (2 mm ap) flattens the cord anteriorly. Canal is 7 mm AP. Each foramen is patent. C5-6 Broad posterior disc/osteophyte comples (2.2 mm AP) flattens the cord anteriorly. Canal is 6.4 mm AP. Mild/moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis is due to uncinate hypertrophy. C6-7 Broad Posterior disc/osteophyte complex (1.6 mm AP) does not contact the cord. Canal is 9.1 mmAP Each foramen is patent. C7-T1 Broad posterior disc bulge (1.6 mm AP) does not contact the cord Canal is 10×6 mm AP. Each Foramen is patent. IMPRESSIONS: Mutlilevel cervival disc disease. Multilevel central canal stenosis (C3-4: Moderate/marked. C4-5: Moderate/marked. C5-6: Marked. C6-7Mild. Multilevel cord flattening. No syrinx or myelomalacia. C6-7 mild/moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis.Thoracic Spine findings. T1-2: Tiny right paracentral disc bulge. T4-5: Tiny left paracentral disc bulge. T5-6 Tiny left paracentral disc bulge. T6-7 Posterior midline disc protrusion (2mm AP) does not contact the cord rest; however, there is mild anterior cord flattening and mild central canal stenosis. T7-8 Small posterior disc bulge does not contact the cord at rest; however, there is mild anterior cord flattening and mild central canal stenosis. T8-9 Tiny posterior disc bulge and mild facet arthropathy cause slight left foraminal narrowing. T9-10 Small bilobed posterior disc bulge and mild facet arthropathy caused mild left foraminal narrowing. T12-L1: Tiny right paracentral disc bulge does not cause cord compression. IMPRESSIONS: Mild lumbar facet wall thoracic dextroscoliosis, spondylosis, facet arthropathy and Degenerative Disc Disease. Benign hemangiomas in the T5 and L1 vertebra. Mild central canal stenosis at T6-7, T7-8, and T9-10. Multilevel thoracic foraminal stenosis. Mild Right AC joint osteoarthritis.

    Could you please give me some advice on how the SSA will look at this MRI findings and how they may rule. I am definately not able to work. I know everyone say they aren’t but I’m telling the truth. Please help. Thank you in advance for your professional advice.

    Lisa

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment. The MRIs are important as they are objective evidence. The MRI results you describe could certainly support a claim for disability benefits. However, it is also really important to have your treating physician’s support. Your doctor (or doctors) really need to indicate in writing that you are unable to return to work – even to desk work. The more specific restrictions (e.g. lifting, sitting, standing) that your treating doctor’s can give you the better.

      David

      • Hi David,
        Thank you for your answer.

        I recently had my MRI on the Lumbar Spine. The findings of this one to add to the C-spine and Thoracic Spine. (see above)

        The results is Disc Desiccation and Minimal Disc bulge/osteophyte complex Mild Facet Arthropathy. on L2/L3.
        L3/L4, L4/L5, L5/S1 Disc Desiccation. Circumferential disc bulge/osteophyte complex. Posterior annular tearng. Flattening the anterior thecal sac. Some narrowing of the elateral recesses. Moderate facet arthropathy. Triangulation spinal canal. Mild bilateral foraminal stenosis. No exiting L3 nerve root impingement. Mild focal central canal stenosis.
        Impression: Levocurvature. Hemangioma L1 and L4 vertebral bodies. Paraspinal muscle fatty infiltration/atrophy.

        Multilevel disc desiccation with changes of discogenic and djd lumbar spine as describe per above with disc bulging. Associated levels of foraminal stenosis. Specifically at L5 S1, there is contact both exiting L5 nerve roots within the foramen without deifinite impingement. Mild focal central canal stenosis at L3-L4

        I’m not sure if the Lumbar Spine MRI is quite as bad as the C or Thoracic but I have so much going on with my entire spine. I’m in pain from the neck to the lower back. Most pain in the thoracic area.

        From having a gastrectomy in 2012, I cannot take NSAIDS for pain as normal people would do. I also have dibilitating esophageal spasms which make the pain worse still in the middle back.Also anxiety. I still haven’t heard from my application which is approximately 6 weeks out.

        Do you think that no news is good news? Do you think I will get a denial from this even with all the evidence I have in my medical records? Again I’m 51. I’m not sure what to expect.

        If I get a denial, should I hire a lawyer before I appeal or appeal first?

        Thanks again for all you do. I appreciate your expert opinion.

        Lisa B.

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Lisa,

          In my area of the country, the initial decision usually takes 3 to 6 months. If you are denied, I recommend consulting with an attorney to handle the appeal (i.e., Request for Reconsideration).

          David

  60. Drew says:

    Hi, I am only 40 yrs old with an Mri for my lumbar updated 2011 showing L2-3, L3-4, L4-5 discs protruding and l4-l5 measures 4mm and 5mm below the vertebrae pinching / compressing my right nerve root. I need a cane to ambulate as I can’t walk well etc. I am unable to sit, stand, crouch, for more than 5 minutes if I am lucky due to the severe pain. I have scoliosis showing in that Mri and have had scoliosis in my upper back since I was 12 yes old. The Mri shows degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease. The problem is on my right side and need to use my cane in my right hand (dominate right handed). I now have a new problem in my cervical with an Mri that was done July 13th showing spinal stenosis, Foraminal stenosis and bone spurs with c3-4, c4-5, c5-c6, c6-7 ( minor bulge @ c3-4) I constantly get cervicogenic headaches can hardly pick up my right arm due to the severe pain. The Mri shows retrolisthesis and reverse lordosis. Would this make me a candidate for SSDI?

  61. Cora Stewart says:

    Dear David,
    I am a 51 year old woman that had spinal fusion surgery on my L4-L5 8 weeks ago. My pain began when I was 25 years old and I endured a lot of pain that was relieved only by rest and 3 epidurals. In 2008 at 46, I began to have lower back pain again and pain down my leg. I went to the doctor several times only to be given medicine for pain and spasms. In January of 2009, my doctor finally did an MRI to find that I had a herniated disk that was compressing the nerve going down my leg. He scheduled a hemilaminotomy to relieve the nerve compression. I was out of work for 2 weeks. Since the beginning of this year I have once again had the excruiating pain down my leg as well as lower back pain. Again I was given meds to help that did not work. Finally in June I had another MRI to show that the disk was extruding 7mm displacing the left L5 nerve root. Due to degenerative disk disease at L4-L5, the doctor and I decided that spinal fusion with disc replacement was the thing to do. Now I am 8 weeks post op. I still have pain in my buttock and leg as well as pain in my lower back. I have also had some joint pain which I think is involving my hips. My back pain is what wakes me up in the mornings and I have it all day and go to bed with it at night. The doctor says to take the pain meds but most of them make me sick and throw up. I can take Tylenol, but who really thinks that is going to help. Motrin helps me with pain, but I can’t take that because the cones won’t fuse. I have worked at a industrial gas company for the last 15 years. I am the lab manager in charge of quality control. There is computer work, etc, but the majority of my work involves moving steel cylinders in and out of the lab for analysis. We have carts, but it still involves rolling a 150 lb cylinder onto the cart, off in the lab for analysis and reload to take outside for shipping. There have been numerous times that I have gone to the plant manager explaining that my back is ‘out’ because of moving these cylinders. My surgery was scheduled for July 8, 2013. I went to work on June 17, 2013 and after trying to check in cylinders that were on a pallet, the pain became so intense that I have to get my husband to come and get me and bring me home. I spent the next 2 days in bed, constantly calling the doctor and requesting anything that would help relieve the pain. They moved my surgery to June 24 and prescribed pain meds and nerve pain meds. On June 19, I had to get an ambulance to the ER because the pain was so intense that I couldn’t do anything but scream. Now, 8 weeks post-op and my husband and I are getting really antsy about the future. My doctor won’t release me for another 5-6 weeks, and I am not sure that I will be able to reutrn to work. We have considered filling workers comp. I contacted a lawyer and was told to talk to the doctor and see if he would confirm that my job could have caused cumulative trauma. We are also wondering if I will qualify for disability. My 12 week FMLA with be up mid September and my company’s short term disability will end then. At that point, we will be hurting financially and don’t know what avenue that we should take – workers comp or disability and the way I feel now, I don’t think I will be able to return to work. I can’t sit or stand for more than 15-20 minutes at the time and I am in constant discomfort.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Cora,

      Thank you for your comment. I would recommend applying for Social Security Disability benefits now. Maybe your condition will change in the next 5-8 weeks and you will be able to return to work. If so, you can dismiss your claim. However, if your condition remains as it is now, I think you have a strong case for disability benefits. Note that the process could take 6 months to 2 years — which is another reason to get the application in sooner rather than later.

      David

      • Cora Stewart says:

        Dear David,
        I am now 14 weeks after surgery. I went to 2 1/2 weeks of therapy in a swimming pool to be told there they weren’t helping me, so there was no need to come back. I went back to my orthopedist who basically told me that he didn’t know why I was hurting, but he didn’t think I would take it to my grave! He told me there was nothing he could do for me anymore. I contacted a neurosurgeon, who thinks that the spinal fusion at L4-L5 is putting pressure on L5-S1. I went yesterday for a nerve root block and I am already feeling tingle and twinges down my left leg. My disability counselor has called me several times, but she keeps waiting to see what the next person says. The neurosurgeon told me that I will probably have to have another laminectomy and/or spinal fusion at this level also. I am so upset because now I have to go back to work on Monday. The doctor has released me for light duty, but I don’t know how long I can manager.

  62. BRS says:

    Dear David , I am a 50 year old female . Ii work 3-4 days a week as a CNA. Recently I woke unable to move my neck to the right and my shoulder felt as if it would explode. I went to Chiropractor but it only got worse, I had a appt with family Dr for on going lower back pain. So I went and was also seen for neck, I was sent for x-rays but ended up in emergency room due to neck pain, The Dr office caleed with results of x-rays which were degenerative disc Disease,, arthritis in my neck and back(I suspect knees and feet also) and my last vertebrae is bone to bone..I was sent to Physical therapy which I am doing now but I am in constant pain, having MRI tomorrow on cervical and lumbar….I dont think my body can keep going on because I cant lift,bend and twist and do what I need to do for the patients anymore,My back goes out sometimes when I am just making the bed, I get pinched nerves in my back and it hurts all the way down my legs . I hurt when I stand very long, I hurt when I sit very long and I hurt when I lay very long..should I file for disability?

    • BRS says:

      I also have no curvature in the neck.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Barbara,

      Thank you for your comment. It sounds premature to file for disability as a) you have not had the MRI yet (the gold standard for back/neck issues) and b) you have not seen a specialist yet (e.g., orthopedist or neurosurgeon). SSA regulations indicate that you must have a condition that has prevented you from (or is reasonably likely to prevent you from) working for at least 12 months. I think you need to know what your permanent situation is likely to be before going down this road.

      David

  63. Dylan muligan says:

    Im a 20 year old male I have had a mri which showed I have the l5 s1 disc bulging. I have not applied for disability because im only 20 and would like to keep working because I seem to think I can make more money that route. I got hurt at work but got denied workers comp they said it didn’t happen there. I have serve pain in my left leg which also comes with a numbing tingling crawing feeling. when I walk up a hill I have to carry my leg with my hand walking down a hill I find my self stumbling forward. I cant sit for periods of time walk and can barley stand after I have been sitting . getting in and out of a car is awful due to pain. ive also found that when sitting or standing I cannot straighten my left leg out in front of me off the ground. any advice for this problem?

  64. Hi David

    I am 56 years old. I have worked professional as a Social Worker for over thirty years (same employer for thirty years). In 2005, I had a fusion on c-6 & c-7. The neurosurgeon stated without this surgery; I would have lost the use of my arms. I have on going numbness and tingling down both arms & positioning of my neck can bring on the symptoms. I have lost strenght in my arms. I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe bilateral carpal tunnel. I had the surgery for the carpal tunnel with residual of general numbness in my hands but not the symptoms as before the surgery..

    I have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, forminal stenosis, osteoarthritis (whole spinal column, knees, hands, shoulders, etc), djd, and other diagnoses. My knees are bone on bone. They did the cartilage injections which helped a little. The orthopedic surgeons do not want to do the total knee replacements because they say I am too young. I still am using a cane to walk. I can not walk a block. I don’t do stairs; it will take about five minutes to do two stairs. I am not able to sit more than half hour then difficult getting up and kinda a like an old car takes awhile to get the body moving. My home is a diaster since I am not able to do the housekeeping I could once do. It takes for ever. I need to pace myself.

    I have several work injuries with the most serious being dropping through a rotten patio deck at clients home back in the 90’s. I have not been the same since. I had open medical on my work injuries. Recently, went to work comp court for the carpal tunnel & lost everything. The judge even took away the open medical from previous injuries. He took the reports of the adverse examiner even though I had five doctors on my side including the Mayo Clinic. My lawyer said the judge can take the report of whoever he choses and that’s the law.

    My employer has been making adjustments for me for the past twenty years or so. It is okay for me to come to work within a two hour adjustment in the morning. Some mornings can hardly move. I need to do traction for neck. I wear elastic waist pants now because the zippers on normal pants is too difficult for me to use. (won’t mention the other stuff). My boss has asked me to file for social security disability. I am on medical leave right now. My boss states they can not make any more adjustments to my work load or cases.

    I am not opposed to working. I have worked hard all my life. I am at the point where it is either leave work or going back to work and possibly getting fired because I can no longer keep up with the work load. My recent mri of the neck and lumbar was read by a doctor who did not take the time to do an indepth report. He put stable on everything. Never had that before in a report. This concerns me. I am in no way stable. I am asking my doctor to have another doctor read the read. Mayo clinic never put stable on my mri reports. This doctor also left out alot of the information on the Mayo Clinic report. It seems like he copied one sentence form the Mayo report and put stable in front of it.

    I am worried. Do you think I will get social security disability? My primary doc and neurologist support disability however, avter this report not sure.

    Let me know
    Thanks
    Jordan

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jordan,

      Thank you for your comment. It is difficult for me to say whether you will be approved based on the information that you have provided. If you don’t have an attorney, I recommend retaining one.

      David

  65. Todd R Wilson says:

    Hello David,
    My name is Todd. A bit of history, I am currently 50 to turn 51 in November. I am sitting at home collecting short term disability through my employer for up to twelve weeks which began on the 23rd of this month for a recent finding of L4 and L5 disc compression, degenerative disc disease, degenerative arthritis and osteoarthritis in my lumbar back. My question, I have a history of Sarcoidosis of the lungs from I believe 2007, since then my breathing has improved but scar tissue makes physical work leave me short of breath and burning lungs in a very short time, secondly, in 2004, I had a partial resection of an Arachnoid Brain Cyst that was and still is the size of my fist that is wrapped around 90 % of my brain stem at the cerebellum. My Neurosurgeon, cut a hole in my skull 50 cent piece size to access the cyst and remove just a quarter sized wall to relieve the pressure in my head. As a result I now have migraine headaches on the regular that are caused by what my doctors noted as Occipital Neurolgia, horrible. Additionally, in 2007 I had a three vertebrae fusion in my cervical spine because I was having extreme numbness in my arms and hands, still do to some degree. Now which is why I am home, I have as explained above my lumbar issues, Degenerative discs in l4 l5, bulging discs, degenerative arthritis and Osteoarthritis,(Boney growths). So, I am considering filing for Social Security Disability in the near future, I have an appointment with my Neurosurgeon this Friday to discuss options. Your thoughts would be so appreciated, does it sound like I have a chance in qualifying for disability? I have had two time loss injuries from my job directly due to this low back issue, in April 2013 I rolled my ankle causing an acute sprain and three weeks off work. I was stepping out of a utility trailer and got a painful twinge in my low back and could not get my footing. In December 2012, I was walking on a slight slope at one of our schools, slipped and began to fall backwards, in an effort to try and catch myself, I got an intense jabbing pain and just fell backwards, hit my neck and head, then had to go to er to get an mri to see if any damage was done to my cervical fusion. Anyway, your thoughts?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Todd,

      Thank you for your comments. If you don’t think you will be able to return to work, it may be worth your time to apply for disability benefits. Moreover, if you are put out on long term disability (after short term), most of those insurance companies actually require you to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. So long as your past relevant work (past 15 years) was not at a desk and your doctors would restrict you to desk work at most, you have a strong case.

      David

  66. Jason Newbraugh says:

    I am in traffic control. My job has me doing a lot of sitting and standing. I found out a couple years ago that I have congenital spinal stenosis. I do get pains in back that shoot down my legs some numbness tingling and burning sensations also. I have lost control of my bowels and some loss of leg functions once. I also have flare ups alot. I had to go to the emergency room about a year ago for mid back pain that was diagnosed as a wedge in my spine that some what went away in about a week after the er visit. I resently had to make another trip to the emergency room about two weeks ago because my mid back had shot pain throughout my spine that made me fall straight down without control. While I was in the hospital they gave me a ct scan and a mri. The ct scan showed the congenital spinal stenosis and the mri showed the same but also I have a herniated disc and two bulging discs. While all this was going on the doctor looked at the xray that showed the wedge in my spine from before and determined it was not a wedge it was two small fractures in my spine. I am a week away from seeing a nero surgen. I am having to quit my job in a couple days because of pain and discomfort I’m experiencing. I was looking for a opion on this any would be appreciated.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jason,

      Thank you for your comment. Honestly it seems a bit premature to file for SSDI. I recommend exploring all treatment options first. Once your treatment options have been exhausted, you can determine what, if any, permanent limitations you have. In my opinion, that’s the appropriate time to consider whether a claim for disability makes sense.

      DAvid

  67. Matt says:

    I am 36 years old, have 6 children the oldest is only 13. I have done construction work my entire adult life, but injured my back at work. I now have three bulging disc that the specialist says is DDD. I have a hard time sitting or standing for very long at a time, with pain going down into my left hip and leg. I also have a catch that shoots pain through my anus and into my testicals after bending or being on my knees working. I am currently on light dueites at work. My doctor wants to try injections in my spine and says if that don’t work then may have to do a fusion. I am afraid that I might not be able to do this type of work much longer, if at all anymore. What’s your advise????

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Matt,

      Thank you for your comment. At your young age, you would need to be able to prove that you cannot do any type of work in order to prevail in a claim for disability. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). It sounds like you are still receiving active treatment for this condition; thus, it may be a bit premature to file a claim. If you were going to file a claim, you would absolutely need your treating physician’s support that you are unable to do any work — even desk work.

      David

  68. Cindy says:

    Dear David,

    I filed for disability in April of 2013. Basis for this was degenerated disks, bulging disks and spinal stenosis. They had MRI’s, xray, hospital records, family doctor records, spine and ortho doctor records. I was sent to a doctor by social security to be examined and went. They have included my gastrointerologist’s records of hiatla hernia, acid reflux and IBS. I am being sent into surgery by my ortho doctor for my knees due to the fact my cartilage is torn, very little cartiliage left and severe arthritis and disability examiner has been informed of that as well. They are sending me to an eye doctor now because they said my eyesight at the first doctor they sent me to was really bad, well I wear contacts or glasses and I knew they were bad. Anyway, my question is…I hired an attorney before I even filed and now with ALL this stuff wrong with me, how much better are my chances for approval with all that wrong and with an attorney?….I am only 39 years old but, do have all this stuff wrong with me and was told an attorney and several different thing wrong increase chances of approval greatly..is that true?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Cindy,

      Thank you for your comment. As you are already represented, you should speak to your attorney about your chances of success.

      David

      • Cindy says:

        I HAVE spoken to my attorney but, he hasn’t given me a straight answer. Being that you know a lot about this subject I figured I could get a straight forward answer from you since my attorney won’t give me one.

        • dgalinis says:

          As an attorney, it is very problematic to give advice to someone who is already represented. Moreover, your attorney is in the best position to be able to answer your question as he/she is in possession of your file and medical records.

          David

  69. Tina says:

    Hello David,
    I suffered a Workers Comp lower back L4/L5 Si injury on 4/1/13. I finally get my surgical consultation on 10/7/13. I started out receiving SDI until TTD and SDI started paying together at my WC attorney’s request. I have chronic pain, numbness & Tingling in my right foot & burning in my left hip. My nerve test validated my MRI results and shows nerve abnormalities. I was released to do lite duty work but my employer could not accommodate my need. I am not allowed to drive & the restriction said I could work 20hrs per week but had to accommodate breaks from sitting to standing. My employer terminated my employment while I was on medical leave and have filed a 132a & am filing a wrongful termination case against the company. Currently I do not believe I can work and depending on the surgical results not sure where I will be. I walk with a cane now but cannot walk or stand for very long. I am very weak in my back and legs at this time. Lack of sleep due to chronic pain has me exhausted all the time. Do you think I could receive Social Security Disability after my surgery once I reach 12mths from 4/1/13. I am 51 years old.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Tina,

      Thank you for your comment. I think it is a bit premature to gauge your chances of success. It depends a great deal on the outcome of the surgery. What will be your restrictions following surgery? I think you should reevaluate following your recovery from surgery.

      David

  70. Fatima says:

    HI, My name is Fatima 51 years old and 4 months, i have a severe asthma, did 2 sinus surgery, i have a carpel tunnel syndromes (pain & Numbness on both hands) form being in the typing job for years, also arthritis, and i had a work injury lower back pain in 03/2008, stop working on 06/2011, seeing too many doctors for treatment and physical therapy for back and hands, applied for SSDI since 09/2012, got denied for the first time and appealed on 04/2013, still waiting for response since then. Please need advice for workers compensation case i had since 2008, i’m entitle to reopen my case since my injury is worsen, also i’m going for surgery for carpel tunnel syndromes, please need your advice, thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Fatima,

      Thank you for your comment. Questions about workers’ compensation need to referred to an attorney in your state because workers’ compensation is state (not federal) law. Our firm has attorneys who practice workers compensation in Maryland and the District of Columbia. If you are local, please get in touch with me and I can get you in touch with one of the attorneys in my office.

      David

  71. Tim says:

    Hi Davis,
    I am 61 years old and have bad back problems.
    I just had hearing before a law Judge. He said that Icould never go back and do the jobs I used to do. I have been told by my doctor to not lift over 20 pounds and not bend over. If I do than my back goes out. The vocational person said there was over a thousand jobs that I could do. The judge said that he saw that some of the doctors said that they recommend surgery. He said that he would like me to get insurance to get my back fixed so I would be able to do more work. I felt like it went well but I don’t know.

  72. shan says:

    Hi. My name is Shan and I have worked since age 15. I an now 33 on Sunday and I just stop working early October. I have 4 hernaited dics in my back 3 in my neck, carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand and carpal tunnel syndrome and neropthy in my right (dominate hand), swelling in feet n hands, pinched nerve in my back. Shooting pain to butt and legs.stopped working because now it’s to the point where I was at work catching pain and scream as the pain fells like sharp thunder in my back. Also have anerism from the doctor tried to do a epa dural (may be spelled wrong, shot to be numb for baby) was stuck 7 times in the wrong spot. Legs go out while standing for short periods of time. Do you think I will have a hard time getting disability with my age and problem. I am her husband and had to take over for her because her hands was tingling them went numb.

  73. Darla Johnson says:

    Hi my name is Darla & I’m 45 yrs old in 2009 I was diagnosed with Sciatica.I was working at Wood Products at the time picking up heaving stuff.I was referred to an Orthopeadic surgeon & he done surgery on me in November 2010 and 3 months later on Feburary 2011 he said he had not got all my nerve so I had to under-go another surgery on L5 S1 & had to have the bone graft with rod & screws in July 2011 since then I still have major back pain numbness in my lft leg & bad cramps in my lower back lft leg that wake me up in the night.He said I would heal in a year.I went Feb of this yr.2013 tried to get a job at Tyson Foods Plant & when I went through medical they sent me over to see their Dr. & he done an x-ray and said that I was still healing & that I was unable to do any type job.I also have carpel tunnel in both wrists but my left is worse he also done an x-ray on it.And,I heard back from medical after he turned in his findings that I was unable to work at all that I wouldn’t be able to even use a pair of scirrors.Do you think I could file for Social Security Disability ?Thanks

  74. Tim Johnson says:

    Hello Sir,
    I am 53 years old and I am having my 3rd back surgery in the last 13 months on Nov. 4th. I had a laminectomy L4-L5, which was unsuccessful and then a fusion L4-L5. I recently have been diagnosed with a large herniation L5-S1 that has caused a condition known as Cauda Equina Syndrome. In addition to these problems I receive disability from the VA (40%) for my left knee and right shoulder. The combination of these conditions has made it very difficult to keep working. I have missed 4 months of work in the past year due to surgeries. I am a teacher and I am required to stand and bend over all day, sitting down while teaching is not an option. I am concerned that I will not be able to continue with my career. Is disability a possibility for me?

  75. Dana Anderson says:

    Hi My name is Dana I am 36 years old been having low back pain for a while, always had bad posture growing up and was in a bus accident when I was 14 years old. I had been back in forth to the emergency room for my low back pain because of sciatica nerve, I kept going off and on for about a month, at that time my low pain became worser where I could not walk, bend, sit, or stand for a period of time and then my whole bottom are went numb causing problems with bowel movement and then went into the ER, the Doctors requested a MRI that showed my disc was broken completely in half and pinching my nerves, I had surgery the next day also I have High Blood pressure as well, and had been admitted 3 time after surgery for not being able to have a bowel movement on my own, I still have to take lactolose to have a bile movement and still have low back pain and numbness in my bottom area, perineal area and heel, and pain in my calves. Do you think I am considered disabled? the work I done prior to back sugery was warehouse work and now have my pharmacy tech diploma.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. Because of your age, in order to prove disability you have to prove that you cannot return to work doing anything. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in your Social Security Disability Case). Thus you need to discuss with your doctors whether they are willing to write a letter indicating that you are unable to do sedentary (desk) work. If you have the support of your treating doctors, you have a chance at proving that you are disabled.

      David

  76. dale says:

    my name is dale,hurt my back in march of 89, had four surgerys to l5 s1 nerv area with complcations from staff infection.ended uo on totle and permant disability in 2002,olso have post tramatic stress disorder wich is included in my disiblity.this is all through workers comp.my attorney toled me in 2002 that I didn’t have enough creidets to apply for s.s.d. is that true thanks, dale

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. I simply do not have the information to be able to answer that question. Certainly your attorney is in a much better position to answer that question.

      David

  77. andre says:

    Nearly ten years ago i was involved in a car accident (not my fault) that herniated a disc in my lower back (L4). While taking a detailed physical for an oilfield job i was told that i had two degenerative hip joints and an herniated disc. Needless to say i was denied the oilfield job but continued working in the foodservice industry as a restaurant manager. I have had infrequent back pain which has been painful but bearable since that time. On occasion i do have shooting pains down through my legs which at times cause me to nearly fall during mid-stride while walking. The pain was so infrequent that i never really thought of it as an actual disability because aside from occasional pain i was still functional. As of this writing i have had consistent lower back pain for the past 3 weeks. My back always hurts although the pain is sporadic in severity. It hurts to sit, stand, and lie down. I just recently became employed at an office job where i will spend the majority of my time sitting down. In restaurants i spent 8-12 hours a day on my feet so this was a welcome change. Unfortunately sitting doesn’t bring me much relief and in some cases makes my pain worse. Im not on medication and dont have a medical diagnosis of my back pain so would i be a candidate for disability with a diagnosis?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for you comment. Certainly a diagnosis would be helpful but the most important factor is probably your age. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case). Even if you are over 50, you still have a difficult claim for two other reasons. First, your condition has been truly disabling for only 3 weeks. The disability must prevent you from being able to work for a minimum of 12 months in a SSA disability case. Second, most winning disability claims concerning the back involve some type of failed surgery and serious pain medication for life. I don’t believe your description quite gets to that level.

      David

  78. susan rehmert says:

    Hello my name is Susan and currently work a desk job, I have under-gone 8 spine surgeries. 5 to the cervical and 3 to lumbar. I also just had osteomylitis which was a year under treatment. I have stenosis, sciatica, constant joint pain,and am at the point of giving up work. I am 51. what are the chances of winning a case
    Susan

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Susan,

      Thank you for your comment. If your treating doctors are willing to support a claim that you are unable to work a desk job, then I think you have the medical evidence to win a claim for disability benefits.

      David

  79. Mags says:

    I’m writing to say I’ve been trying to get disability for my husband as cant walk far and the doctor told him there was nothing he could do no operation and he’s got 3disc ruptures and 2vertibras crumbling away narrowing of spinal cord and can’t feel my feet there tingle and burning feeling can some one please help

  80. Latanya says:

    I am a 33 year old practical nurse with multiple lumbar spine issues ranging from exaggerated curve par fx stenosis arthritis and a partial discectomy done seven months ago just had third mri facing second surgery my job is becoming harder and harder my right leg is affected my right foot stays numb and I now walk with limp what are my steps at this point

  81. Allison says:

    I am 35 yr old nurse with many back issues. I have been in the medical field since I was 16 with really no other work experience. I have been struggling with my back issues for over 4 years now. My most recent MRI’s have shown I have 2 bulging discs with nerve root compression in my lumbar spine and 4 bulging discs in my neck with some blockage of my spinal fluid along with Degenerative Disc Disease and stenosis in both my lumbar and cervical spine. This causes alot of pain and numbness and weakness in both areas. i have difficulty walking, standing and sitting frequently. My pain dr has recommended I have an Accurascope procedure to both areas which my insurance is denying to cover at this time stating this is a preexisting condition due to the fact I had a lapse in my insurance coverage greater than 90 days. My question could short term disability be an option for me at least until I can get approved for this surgery by my insurance?
    Sincerely,
    Allison

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Allison,

      Thank you for your comment. There is no “short term disability” component of the Social Security Disability system. When people use the term “short term disability” they are typically referring to a private insurance policy acquired through their employment. If you have such a policy, it is important to read the terms of the policy to see whether it may assist you in your situation. It is certainly beyond the scope of this blog.

      Good luck,

      David

  82. David says:

    I am a 39 and have been in construction my entire life.I was diagnosed with Diabetes over a year ago but i had already developed Neuropathy in my legs and feet so standing for any amount of time is painful.I also have severe back problems that causes pinched nerves in my legs and neck and shoulder.Now in the last 5 months something went wrong in my elbow down to my hand and wrist where i cant use my arm anymore. Cant lift anything my wrist locks up all the time.I cant sleep at night due to the pain.Trying to dress myself is almost impossible sometimes.Doctor says i may have a herniated disc and need a MRI i have no insurance to get a MRI. Is there any chance of getting disability without the MRI.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your comment. Objective medical tests (such as an MRI) are extremely important in evaluating your disability case. The medical evidence from your doctors and the results of these tests are what you are relying on to prove a claim for disability.

      David

  83. Frank says:

    I hurt my back at work in 2007. MRI showed bulging disc. In 2011 I got another MRI and it showed hurniated disc. In 2013 I hurt my back again. Needed surgery. Can I prove that this is all from work. I climb electricity poles for a living..

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Frank,

      Thank you for your comment. In a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits we do not care whether the problems are caused by work. The medical conditions to support a claim from disability can be from any cause.

      David

      • carolyn says:

        Dear David I’m 43 applied for disability I have two herniatef disk severe pain in my buttocks and radiating down my legs osteoarthritis. In my spine and in my kneed pereonal. Nerve damaged dropped foot diabetic nerve pain diabetes high blood pressure lumbar raditcjltis spinal stenosis lumbar sponalysis and more over weight at 250 pounds I was denied I can’t stand on my job no more for eight hours I can’t stand no more than 30 minutes can’t sleep at night without. Twisting and turning every thrity minuted due to pain I can’t bent and move around alot because of my back I can’t even stand straight no more I can’t take inflammatory. Medicines due to it damaging my kidneys. Can I win my case with a lawyer

  84. Erica says:

    I am 18 and I have been living with back problems for almost 6 years now and I haven’t really been able to work because of it. I’ve wanted to get a job but I can barely do housework without severe pain. I have several bulging discs and a cyst in my back and I have limited range of motion. I was recently told that I could file for disability but I wasn’t really sure if I would qualify or not. I went to a specialist and at one point they wanted to do surgery but I decided against it. I have also been put on lots of pain medication that I can’t take because I wouldn’t be able to function if I took them. I know I’m pretty young for back problems which is why I was worried about filing for disability. My mother has been trying for years and hasn’t really gotten anywhere with it.

  85. Debbie H. says:

    I am 56 years old and work at the post office.Back on Sept 26,2013 I hurt my back while placing a heavy box into a cage. I went to have an ex-ray at the end of the day and the diagnosis was Spondylolisthesis L4 L5 and Spondylosis. The doctor, Orthopedic surgeon told me that it was degenerative, but that doing the job had exacerbated the problem. I have had back problems at times since I got pregnant with my first baby 28 years ago, but never had I missed work over it. It is now the end of January and I have been out of work since that time. Just a few days ago, I was the ok to return to work but with a lot of restrictions. These restrictions prevent me from doing my job as a window/distribution clerk. Just doing housework causes me pain in my lower back, and now, my neck, shoulder and right arm are experiencing terrible nerve pain. I have degenerative disk disease in my neck as well. That I have known about and have had 2 Epidural steroid injections, but they were unsuccessful. All of this has caused terrible anxiety and trouble with sleep. I can only stand about 15 minutes before I start feeling burning in my lower back. Sitting I can handle for a little bit longer. I can no longer do my job. My question is, can I apply for SSA?

    Thank you!

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for the comment. I apologize for the late reply but I was inundated with comments to my blogs and my practice had to come first. If your doctor is willing to indicate in writing that you are permanently unable to perform your prior work, I think that you have a reasonable chance of success.

      David

  86. Susan says:

    I am 42 and recently had L5-S1 fusion with hardware and a sacrum realignment for a birth defect. Prior to this, in the 80’s, I had surgery to correct idiopathic scoliosis with a fusion fromT1-L2 and harrington rods. Both of these surgeries have left me with only 2 untouched segments in my spine, L3 and L4…both which are showing the beginning signs of degeneration. I have tried to return to my job only to discover I cannot concentrate or sit more than 30 minutes without pain. I have numbness in both hands and possible nerve damage in my left hip and right foot….which happened after my recent TLIF surgery. I am trying to decide if I should apply for disability? It is really difficult to sit, walk or stand longer than 30 minutes at a time without pain and I depend on pain meds for relief.

  87. Kimberly says:

    I have been denied 2 times and am now waiting on a hearing date. I have just now retained an attorney for this part as I see there is no way I will be able to fight this alone. First off, by the time I get my hearing I will be 50 or very close to. My background is in management with a lot of up/down/lifting/bending etc. I was first finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after 7 years of trying to find out what was wrong, then came the car accident where I suffered 3 herniated discs in my neck and 2 in my back. I have also had headaches since the accident non-stop. The surgeon is NOT recommending surgery due to the complexity of the injuries in my neck. My back is not showing nerve impingement; however, I have ‘thrown’ it out several times since the accident, simply by not doing much of anything and I will have incredible pain down my leg and only finally gets better after taking my husbands pain meds (my Vicoden won’t even touch it), ice, my tens unit and basically being laid up for 2-3 days. I have also found out, as a result of the MRI’s, that I also have DISH Syndrome as well as arthritis. I also completed an FCE which indicated that I might be able to work 3-4 hours per day but cannot sit or stand for any extended period of time and bending, lifting and reaching above my shoulders as well as overall strength is out of the question. So I guess I’m trying to get a feel for what might happen at the hearing, would I have a good case? I have to add that I am trying to fight so hard for this and I am sickened to my stomach to find out that someone that I know is only 33 years old and got approved for SSDI for only having Fibromyalgia and she jogs 3 miles a day!!! My gosh, with my Fibromyalgia alone, I struggle to walk around the block with being in pain.

  88. Keren says:

    Hi,

    I am a 50 year old woman (well, 50 next month). Last Fall, at the T-8 level, a disk inexplicably broke into several pieces, traveled between my vertebrae and lodged against my spinal cord, causing partial paralysis in both of my legs, my right one up to my rib cage, my left up to my thigh. I couldn’t walk. I was admitted to a local hospital. It took time for the doctors to figure out what was causing the paralysis; a week later, a neurosurgeon performed a diskectomy, removed the straying disk bits, and then fused my spine from T-4-T11. I have fourteen pins, and several rods, all of which still seem to cause pain.

    The surgery lightened the paralysis, but it did not fully cure it. My feet and legs constantly tingle and burn like limbs that have fallen asleep. I can currently walk, but must rely on a cane for stability and more than likely it will remain this way. My range of motion is severely limited, and the whole spinal column, along with the rib the doctor drilled to get a bone graft, hurt all the time. Particularly, the joints above T4 and below T11 receive too much stress and cause pain. My stamina can only handle a slow 10 minute walk before I have to rest. In general, my back is still healing I am still home on prescribed pain meds, working with a therapist, but I have passed the FMLA protection point.

    I am a high school teacher, so when/if I able to return to work, i then can switch from sitting to standing, but I am not allowed to lie down (which I find I must do.) I have tried to get back part time, but there are always obstacles. (full release. Required, no pain meds.)

    I know it is very early yet, but I know I cannot work now; my physical therapist is very opposed to my working a full day, but my surgeon seems very cavalier about it all. His report to my job says it is up to me to decide when I can work a full day, when I can work without meds., and that he limits my lifting to 50 lbs. (??!!). I can barely lift a milk jug. My physical therapist limits my workouts to 10 lbs. My surgeon never examines what I am capable of and seems more interested in how strong/effective his procedure is, and less concerned with what I can handle/do.

    At this point I cannot work without pain meds., and I am disallowed from working while on them. What are my options? What advice do you have for me?

    Thank-you so much,

    Keren

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the late reply but I have been inundated with comments to my blog but had to devote my time to my current clients. In my opinion you will need your treating doctor to be in your corner in order to prevail in claim for Social Security Disability. Given your occupation, I think your treating doctor would need to state in writing that you are unable to work as a teacher and why. I think with this evidence you would have a reasonable chance at success in a claim for disability.

      David

  89. Krissy says:

    I apologize, in advance, for the large amount of text.

    I am 20 years old, and I have been told by many people that I should seek help of this nature.
    I have also been told that it could prove to be very challenging.

    I have only had two jobs, and they were both in the fast food industry. I injured my back while attempting to lift something heavy at my last job, and went to the doctor immediately, who ran a number of tests, and referred me to many specialists. I ended up finding out that I have severe endometriosis, and subsequently had two surgeries. I was not able to return to that job because the pain was so unbearable. While I was recovering from surgery, again, my back was injured, and I went to see the doctor, who referred me to, yet another, specialist. I was given a ct scan and an x-ray, and discovered that I have many other physical problems, some of which I was unaware, but most of which still cause me incredible pain on a daily basis.

    I have a throat injury, my tailbone is fractured in two places, I have at least one herniated disc, two bulging discs, a pinched nerve in my neck, severe scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and the midsection of my spine is apparently refusing to fuse correctly, which is worsening all of my other symptoms. The endometriosis is incredibly painful on its own, and now my primary doctor is telling me that she thinks I may also have fibromyalgia and cystosis, to top it all off.

    It’s hard to get around, and almost impossible to function, even when I am at my own home. My entire body is in constant pain, due to nerve damage. I’ve started the process of getting my spine adjusted, and will soon begin physical therapy, but I’ve been told that some of the diseases listed are chronic, and so will always be with me. I wouldn’t have considered this before, but now I’m wondering if I have any other options. I’ve been told that I may be automatically disqualified because of my short work history, and the fact that there are “always desk jobs out there”, but sitting hurts almost as much as standing does, and even if I were able to remain seated or consistently switch from sitting to standing all day, no one in my area is willing to hire someone for a desk job that has such little experience. I suppose all I want is your advice, and to know whether or not you think I would even be considered if I applied for disability. I don’t know what else to do at this point.

    Thank you for your time. It is genuinely appreciated.

  90. Michael says:

    David,
    I have been doing lots of research in respect to SSI, since I applied in January. I have spent my career as a bartender and restaurant manager. As many who have posted on this site, I have had back issues for over 20 years, and I am only 41. I had my first L5/S1 micro discectomy May 2011 which helped reduce instances and severity of back, leg & nerve issues until September 2013. I felt a “pop” in my back in which I completely lost feeling and use of my legs and the excruciating pain landed me in the ER. After much waiting due to health insurance coverage logistics, a new MRI showed multiple new fragmentations and herniation. A second micro discectomy was done December 2013, but the extreme pain in the left buttock and hip and numbness in joints was still present. Three weeks later I felt another “pop”, recurrent symptoms and back to the ER. A new MRI revealed more fragmentation. My neurosurgeon scheduled an epidural injection apparently to “buy time” as he was going on a two week vacation. I meet with him again early March 2014. He also said he would do whatever he could to assist with my SSI claim, as I have not worked since last September. I can not be cleared to lift 10lbs, no twisting or bending and I am on pain and muscle medication. On the day of my injection, the pain management doctor said “I’ve reviewed your MRI, you have disc pieces floating and you need surgery, why are you here?” Consequently, I have made an appointment with another neurosurgeon to gain more advice on fusion. I took it upon myself to get copies of my medical records to help expedite the medical review portion of my claim, at the direction of my local SS office. I plan to get a lawyer soon, now that fusion surgery seems inevitable. Am I headed in the right direction?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Michael

  91. Terri Blair says:

    I have lumbar DDD, anxiety, panic disorder,depression and sleep apnea. I go through my days in a painful sleepy fog. Could these issues qualify me for disability?

  92. Lisa Heath says:

    Dear
    Dear Sir.
    My name is Lisa Heath. I am 53 years old. I have not worked in 2.5 years. I have been diagnosied with scolosis and sciatica. I have applied for disability. I have been waiting for a hearing date for almost 14 months. I have inflamation really bad. The inflamation is in my buttocks. I hurt in my left buttocks and down my left leg and at my foot. I have a lawyer waiting for Soc. Security to submit a hearing date. Do you think that I have a good chance at receiving disability? Thank you for input.
    Sincerely,
    Lisa Heath

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment. Please contact your attorney with this question as he or she will be in the best position to provide an answer.

      David

  93. Sunny says:

    I am 32 years old and fell on ice when I was about 5 months pregnant. I have been out of work since due to extreme back leg hip pain and headaches. I have also fallen several times since because my leg goes numb and gives out. I am now due to deliver in 2 weeks and have been denied 3 times by short term disability ( Hartford) through my employer. they obviously cannot do xrays or MRI due to my pregnancy. but at the same time I cannot sit or stand for long periods at all. am I legally being denied because they can’t be a diagnosis yet? and on top of that I can’t go back to work to get maternity leave without a doctor’s releasing me to work. how am I supposed to get a release from work when I’ve been dismissed from work but that wasn’t enough to get paid. so here I am 2 weeks for my due date haven’t received payment at least 4 months have no future income. do you have any suggestions or advice?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. I can only provide information with regards to claims for Social Security Disability benefits, not benefits through your private disability insurance company or employer. As far as SSD is concerned, it is a program for those who are out of work a minimum of 12 months and does not seem to be an answer for you at present. Certainly, if your condition were to last beyond 12 months it may be worth considering.

      David

  94. michael tanguay says:

    I am a carpenter and just had lower back surgery. S1 l4 l5 fusion. Im in a union and its only been about 2 months. I suffer from left leg pain and find myself having to lay down allot cause of the pain. I really do not think I will be able to return to the construction feild. What can I do . Im 40 an construction is all I know.

  95. Sheli says:

    I had a laminectomy on my l4/l5, l5/s1 on April 21. This was due to pain, numbness, stabbing sensation and falling down periodically due to nerve damage on my left side. It has been 10 weeks since surgery. I’m having terrible muscle spasms, my left calf on the outside is numb, Dow around the outside of my toes and the bottom of my foot, heel hurt to walk on and are numb. I’m my 43 what do I do? I’m on very expensive and strong narcotics and working, doing anything is getting more and more difficult. My surgeon s stumped…he even told my husband after my surgery was over that it was a miracle that I was even walking. What do I do? I was broughtup that disability wasn’t something we did,but I don’t know what else to do. Am I even a candidate for disability? Please let me know. Thank you!

  96. Deborah Isenberg says:

    Sir,
    I am a 57 year old woman who is currently working as a CNA. I have had 3 MRI’s done in the past year. I have very severe central spinal stenosis L2, L3, L4, and L5. Also herniated disc. I have problems walking and with balance. I am in pain when I walk, sit, stand or lie down for certain periods of time. The last MRI I had taken showed the disc that was herniated a piece of it broke off. My doctor told me I should consider retiring, I just don’t know what my chances would be at being approved for it. I went to see a neurologist who sent me to pain management. I had 3 epidural shots to left side and 2 to the right side. He said my only option was surgery. The recovery time would cause me to lose my job. I am at a loss on what to do. What do you think my chances would be. I am currently on percocet 10/325 three times a day. Some days it just does not cut it. My doctor wants to put me on a low dose Fentanyl patch along with the percocet, but I really don’t want to go that route either. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You
    Debbie

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for the comment. If your doctor is willing to indicate in writing that you are permanently unable to perform your prior work, I think that you have a reasonable chance of success.

      David

  97. Polly Smith says:

    My husband is almost 60 and has already had two back surgery’s and is looking at two more. L5-T1 surgery, L4-L3 and now L4-5 surgery is scheduled for next week. He will then be more then likely having surgery in his upper back. He has pain down his right leg and numbness in his left leg and left hand. We applied back in feb and SSD is still requesting information on his work history. He was in the military for 22 years as a mechanic and has done pretty much maintenance work since retiring. What are his chances we are getting worried because it is taken so long.

  98. Pat says:

    I am a 56 yr. old female. Employed as a FT Registered Nurse in a Skilled, LTC, Health and Rehab facility. I was at work 6/9/14 and started having diff breathing, seen in ER and admitted to the hospital for DX of Exh COPD, and developed hospital acquired pneumonia. Spending a total of 13 days in the hospital 6 days in the hospital. Returned back to work. Approx. 7 days after release from hospital and then I developed severe back pain after bending over to pick up a golf ball. I attempted to treat myself with OTC analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents. Pain continued and worsen after 7 days. Was seen ER and diagnosed by X-ray with a collapse vertebrae of T7 due to Osteopoesis. Referred to neurosurgeon. I have now been out of work for 15 days and the pain continues. Am taking RX Robaxin 750mg two tabs every 4 hours. Pain is radiating some to my hips as well when I stand for about 10 minutes, ( example: while I am attempting to wash dishes). The earliest appointment with Neuro is Aug 4. Meanwhile my family physician is ordering MRI as to hopefully speed up treatment for back pain relief. The physician in the ER discussed probable Vetebroplasty may be indicated. I have several comorbidities, Graves Disease treated with radioactive Iodine and now life long thyroid medications. New DX: COPD, and sleep apnea requiring C-pap and oxygen at night. HTN, 3 years post menopausal with antidepressant (Effexor) for treatment for hot flashes. With having osteopoesis I am prone to get other fractures without significant cause. I have broken several ribs in the past by simple things such as reaching over to the back seat of a car, riding rides at an amusement park, leaning to far to one side. I have taken Boniva by Infusion therapy in the past as I was not a candidate for oral mediation like Fosomax for prophylactic treatment as my Bone density scan years ago showed osteopenia then. I am scheduled for another bone density scan Aug 14 as my endocrinologist wanted this repeated since my Kyphosis is so bad and I am on hormone replacement therapy for hypothyroidism and post menapausal. I definitely have a noticeable hump back. I have now lost 3 inches in height. Also the x-ray report showed a loss of 33% of vertebral height. My question to you is, would I be likely to receive Social Security Disability due to all the above problems, my age factor and my job description as a nurse having to deal with patient care. Please advise.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. If you stop working and your doctor supported in writing that you were unable to continue your prior work permanently, I think you would have a reasonably good chance of approval.

      David

  99. Rui says:

    Mr. David I’ll like to get your opinion if possible to my case:I’m 56 and march 11/14 I hurt my back at work .Did 2 types of physical therapy and i’m getting steroids injections in my back.Can’t walk more than 20 min,same about sitting and if I bend myself to do something…the pain in my back gets bad.(bending is a real problem)My feet gets numbness and my right arm is getting weak.I’m still trying to go back to work but…????For what I see here is dificult to get disability and the process takes some time.What chances do I have to get it and should I apply now or wait for the final result of my case?I was diagnosted with sciatica,sprain of back lumbar and displacement of lumbar intervertebral disc without myelopathy.I’ll really appreciate your opinion and thanks for your time. (Not working since the accident)….Rui

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. I generally advise people to consider applying for SSD benefits if they have been out of work for 6 months. If your condition improves later, you can always withdraw your claim. The problem with waiting is that the process could take a couple of years to get to a final conclusion. As to your chances, if your prior work experience does not include desk work and your doctor is willing to state in writing that you are never going back to your prior work, I think you have a reasonably good chance at success.

      David

  100. Trish Trent says:

    I am a 50 yr old female, who for the most part worked in manufacturing for 20-25 yrs including much heavy lifting…I had a surgery in 2011 for herniated and protruding disc…I have continued to have severe pain at surgery site, to describe it I wd say its like a elephant sitting on my spine at times…I have complained of back pain to pcp for many yrs, at least 9, she ordered another mri, this one not as bad,degenerative disc and a small protruding disc near a root at same area I had surgery…I was diagnosed as a child w scoliosis, and have been to many chiro’s as well who tell me I still have some of that and a titled pelvis…I do not have a attorney yet and just filed for disability last week because I cannot do anything as before and my quality of life has gone completely down hill as far as lifting,standing,sitting for long periods longer than 20-30 min…I have been going to pain management for almost a yr..My regular pcp seems to back me on the pain, but the pain management doc and previous back surgeon seen to always blame on my weight, I am 5’9 and about 187 lbs so its not like im grossly overweight and my pcp made the comment she has patients that are 300 lbs that don’t have my back pain…I am worried these two male docs opinions will affect the outcome saying there is nothing wrong with me but my weight…I am going to try to get my pcp to fill out the neccesarry papers but not sure if they will all have to comment on my status…I have not been able to work in that field per these docs because of the bending,lifting etc…I was looking for a desk job,,cdnt find one,as this is not my field, but my back pain has increased to horrible again,ive even fell in tub twice as I don’t have strength to pull myself up…also have barretts esphogas issues,high blood pressure and most recently a tumor on my uterus probably requiring a hysterectomy…Please advise as to how to go forward and whats my disability success rate? and I figure im gonna need an attorney! Thanks u very much for your time! Oh and I haven’t worked in 2 yrs, I am receving help from family members, but they cant help forever…

  101. Lisa Williams says:

    Dear David, I have had 2 back surguries and am in need of another for a L3 nerve root because, of severe back , leg and arm pain. The problem is the doctor I have who is a wonderful surgeon does not want to do it on me! I have spinal stenosis and degeneroue desease and something else in my back they say I am pretty much bone to bone up to my neck! My pain is so intolorable that I am going to the doctor and asking her about disability and quitting my 1 day a week 1 week and my 2 dsy s week the next of working cause, I can;t even lift a gallon of milk, and I hurt toooo much! Thanks for your time, LIsa

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. The condition you describe is certainly serious enough to support a claim for disability. It would be helpful to your claim if your treating doctor would be willing to indicate in writing that you are unable to work in any capacity, including his/her rationale. Depending on your age, you may even be able to win a claim with less than that from your doctor. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case).

      David

  102. Deborah says:

    I’m a 55 year old female. I’ve had back problems every since my first Caesarean section 38 years ago. I’ve had four C. sections. Now, with age my back pain is severe. I’ve been to Dr. a few times over my back but do not have insurance so I can’t afford the specialists that I was referred to. I have been told that my back pain may be from my weight. I was 30 lbs. over weight with my first C. section, now I am 55 years old and 100 lbs. over weight due to the fact that I can’t not exercise because of my back. I can not bend, can not set for long periods of time, can not walk too far of a distance, for example: A walk in Wal-mart would do me in for the day. I would have to go home and lay down. I am abusing over the counter pain med. I take 4 ibprofin tabs. every four hours. Have been doing this for years. I was offered pain medication for my back pain by different doctors but I refuse to take prescripted pain med. My last job was about 8 years ago. I lasted about 2 weeks because I couldn’t stand on my feet for very long. It took me a week of bed rest to get over the 2 week job. I’m not in very good shape at all but don’t know if I would qualify for disability or not. I’ve heard so many different stories from people.

  103. lisa says:

    Hi my name is lisa i been having bad back problems for 12 years i don’t see the same doctors all the time now i just got gout on my rite toe and on my rite hand all there given me is pills for my back and gout i hate taken them cuz all it do is make me sleep i have hard time sitting and standing cant walk along time my friends say i can get ssi for this and help with a good doctor is this true

  104. Angel says:

    My fiance’ is currently fighting for disability. He is in his 5th appeal right now. However, we feel hopeless considering he has been denied so many times.

    He has back issues. He took a 4-story dive off a roof while working construction back in 1993 and then in 1998 took a 2-story dive off a roof again.

    He was the owner of his business back then, no insurance for him. He paid cash for all medical expenses, but never got copies of his records. Miraculously, the hospitals that he was treated at doesn’t have any records either (or they say they don’t).

    In 2005, he finally had to quit working because the pain was just too much to bear. He has constant numbness/tingling in both legs. Pain radiating down the right side.

    We got together in 2012 and I finally talked him into seeing a Spine specialist in 2013 and he got an MRI and a nerve conductivity test done.

    These are the findings of the MRI from March 2013:

    There is a 1 to 2-degree curvature of the lumbar spine convex toward the left on coronal images. There is no spondylolisthesis on sagittal views. There is 75% narrowing of the disc space height at L5-S1 and on some images 1 to 2 mm of retrolisthesis L5 on S1. There is no spondylolysis. The patient has type 2 endplate change inferior L5. The disc height and signal is preserved at all other levels studied.

    He recently (August 2014) had another MRI done and these are its findings:

    L1/2: No dominant disc protrusion. Minimal facet changes. The neural foramina are grossly patent.

    L2/3: No dominant disc protrusion. Minimal uncovertebral changes. The neural foramina are grossly patent.

    L3/4: No dominant disc protrusion. Minimal annular prominence. Minimal uncovertebral changes. Minimal facet changes. The neural foramina are grossly patent.

    L5/S1: Prominent annular bulge and protrusion. Minimal annular tear is not excluded. Intervertebral disc height loss. Uncovertebral degenerative osteophytosis. Minimal facet degenerative changes. Narrowing neural foramina bilaterally.

    IMPRESSION:

    L5/S1: annular bulge and protrusion. Details above.

    Now, I have no idea of what all this means. I know he has a bad back, I know he lives in pain constantly. I know he still has no insurance and any doctor he goes too doesn’t want to seem to help him with managing the pain or perform and medical procedure to fix him.

    I feel his issue is fixable (as I have had 3 back surgeries myself and I am 6 years younger than him) and I am doing just fine now. However, without insurance …. goodluck on finding that kindhearted neurosurgeon who will do surgery on him without payment.

    As I said, earlier …. he has been fighting his disability claim now since 2005 and it is currently in its 5th appeal. He is now 49 yrs old and will be 50 in May 2015. He has a 5th grade education in Math, but reading/writing is on a 3rd level. He writes phonetically and he is dyslexic and SSA says he can be rehabilitated to work as a movie theatre usher. He walks with a cane. We’ve moved to a single level home without steps because he falls down too often because he can’t feel his legs under him. He has fallen multiple times in the shower. All of this info has been recorded with SSA and yet, they still deny him until he got further medical evidence.

    With the MRI done this year, what is your opinion on whether or not the disability will ever be approved, or are we looking at waiting til that golden age of 50 which is only 8 months away from now?

    BTW, he has worked in construction since he was age 13. That’s all he knows and all he has done. With his inability to read/write fluently, how can SSA say he can be “rehabilitated” to do another job, especially when it involves reading movie theatre tickets, bending/standing for long periods of time?

    I thank you in advance for reading over this and look forward to seeing your opinion.

    Angel
    Bradenton, FL

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. As you hinted at, age is a very important factor. (See Age: A Crucial Factor in Your Social Security Disability Case). The MRI does not mention any nerve root impingement which typically is an important factor in these cases. The MRI, however, is not evidence of his limitations. In these cases, the treating physician needs to be provide his/her written opinion with regards to your fiance’s limitations and why they would prevent him from working – even as a movie ticket taker.

      David

  105. joao victor says:

    hi David,
    im 52 years old and i have been out of work for about two years due to a Madjor mental disorder and back pain in my lower back , now i have pain in my right should ,arm and my finger are getting numb, also my both legs and feet are hurting me allot and tingling on my toes, this is daily , I have receiving treatment from Psychiatrist, and group meetings,also for my back , therapy , im taking to manny medications for both injuries, i can’t concentrate, i have lots of depression, my mood changes constantly throughout the day, i cry allot of sadness, i use to be a plant manager for the last 15 years i work , and 12 years as a supervisor for the same company, i was hospitalized twice while I was at work when i went back to work with restrictions they laid me off on the first day, i got a small severance package , im claiming workers comp benefits , i, receiving from my LTD and advocator group is trying to get me SSD, i do have an attorney for the W/C, is there anything here that you think i should do different to obtain the highest benefits , my wife is 50 and she has not been working for the last 21 year , in the last 6 years she is dealing with nueropathy on her both legs and feet she also has lots of pain on her lower back, she is very stressed with my situation and worried about my behave , im talking to myslef and mentioned several times that death could be the easiest way to stop all this pain, she is always near by me , because of my high salary we are not bad in financial terms , but its evaporating fast, i had one deposition for the back , and a few weeks ago i had the second deposition for the mental, company ask how , i want to settle, after i told them , they decided to proceed the deposition, at that time i was not feeling good and told them i was not thinking clear , so the deposition was canceled for a later date, so please let me know if there is something im missing or can i add all the worries from my wife to the claims.
    thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. As you are currently represented, it would be inappropriate for me to provide any advice. Please direct your questions to your attorney.

      David

  106. HEATHER says:

    HELLO MY NAME IS HEATHER IM 42 YEARS OLD AND I WORK AT A PARTS STORE ON MY FEET ALL DAY LONG I’VE HAD BACK PROBLEMS NOW FOR 2 YEARS. I’VE HAD X~RAYS AND MRI DONE I SENT MY MRI TO A LASER SPINE INSTITUTE AND THIS IS WHAT HE SAID THAT I HAVE DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE. I HAVE ARTHRITIS FROM MY HIPS ALL THE WAY UP MY SPINE 2 HERNIATED DISC AND A SLIP DISC. SPINAL STENO-SIS FACET DISEASE FORAMINAL NARROWING AND I HAVE MISSED SO MUCH WORK BECAUSE OF MY BACK IM SCARED IM GOING TO LOSE MY JOB… i WAS WONDERING IF THESE ISSUES CAN BE GROUNDS FOR DISABILITY…. I CAN TELL YOU THAT WHEN I STAND UP MY BACK HURTS SO MUCH I HAD TO GET SHOTS AFTER SHOTS MY FEET GO DUM AND SO DO MY HANDS… THANK YOU FOR YOU TIME

  107. Richard Rodriguez says:

    Hello, My name is Richard and I an 45 years old. I have been working in the Telecommunications industry since 1989 and my highest grade completed in high School was the 10th grade. I went to a Technical School to learn Telecommunications. I was working for a company here in So Cal for 13 years doing Structured cabling and I was a Foreman (A working Foreman) (Installation of Voice and Data Cable and Building out Data Centers with racks & Cabinets) we also do Demo of Old Structured cabling and install new updated Cabling within Buildings. Well in 2011 we did this big demo project up in Northern Ca. the week of Thanksgiving 2011. The owner (one of 3) said we have 1 Hour to load about 7 to 9k feet of cable onto this big truck, the cable was spread within 2 floors and each bundle varied in weight (some 100lbs and some 300lbs) I was the oldest of the crew of 4. Well thanks to this greedy owner who did not want to pay for the truck to stay longer or ad help to our crew I ended up injuring my back. I have had 6 injections, Acupuncture, Therapy, Chiropractor, and given just about every pain medication known. After being screwed by my employer and not getting any help from the workman’s comp doctor I decided to hire a Lawyer in Oct of 2013 (BTW, I was fired 1 week later) and Just had Surgery I had (reading from the paperwork) A Wide decompression laminectomy, facetectomy at L3-4 and L5-S1 and fusion with posterior segmental instrumentation TLIF with cages at L3-4, pre-operative clearance. I also had a herniated disc and my left leg was in pain and numbness. I am also going to have surgery on my knee since I also have a torn meniscus (which the WC fought but I won as well, that’s why my knee wasn’t done first). I have been out of work since October 4th 2013 and I was being paid State Disability but now I am receiving Disability Checks from WC and not State. I have 3 Children (one just turned 18 but is a full time student still in college) and My Wife has a serious case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and can barely walk most of the time. We both take medication that makes us feel sleepy all the time and cannot remember most things and very hard to concentrate on anything, I also am going through Anxiety Depression which WC also is denying. I am taking Hydrocodone, Tramadol, Gabapentin, Diclofenac Sodium, Pantoprazo;e, and Venlafaxine HCL. It’s been about 1 month since my surgery and I am still in pain with stiffness in my lower back, Left le still feels numb and as I mentioned, still waiting for the knee surgery. My wife didn’t qualify for SSI because they said I make to much on disability (dropped my jaw!) Will I qualify for SSI? or will my disability checks stop that as well? Its hard since I have always been the provider for my family and now I feel worthless! I feel like I let everybody down as we where supposed to move to a bigger place (we are all 6 in a small 2 bedroom apmt) but since I lost my job and started getting these checks I don’t make as much anymore so were stuck here. The doctor so far has me on Perm Partial Disability ntil ths is all over with then God knows what after that, what I do know the way I feel I will never be able to do what I used to do again as it requires a lot of lifting, bending, stretching, reaching, squatting, climbing ladders, crawling, pulling, and pushing. It also requires a lot of driving and siting in traffic which hurts when I do any of those things. The medication has me sleepy and not being able to concentrate or remember, let alone driving.
    Sorry for the long story but I felt I had to start from the beginning. I have been doing what I do for a very long time and I am scarred of what tis ends up coming to at the end. Please Help with any information if you can, Thank you in advance,

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. Given that you have an attorney, I think it would be inappropriate for me to reply substantively to your comment. I would ask your attorney these questions.

      David

  108. MLW says:

    I am 49. I last worked in 1988 and have been a stay at home mom. My husband has been working full time. He is 59. I was in an auto accident in 2012. Among other injuries, I had a vertebral compression fracture in the T area–wedge shaped. I lost 50% of my vertebrae. I cannot stand, walk, or sit in one position for long periods of time. I currently have breathing problems and constant radiating pain as well as numbness in my left arm, side, ribs. I will be seeking surgery options. My question, am I able to apply for disability via my husband’s work contributions to SocSec since I have not worked since 1988? I had hoped to get back into the workforce but now am not able to. Please let me know..thanks! I live in VA.

  109. Lori says:

    Hi David, I live in Colorado. I am a 50 year old female and have been in road construction for 16 years. I injured my left elbow 9-17-12 at work, I went to concentra the same day and they did a regular xray and said no broken bones and then put me in physical therapy several days a week stating it is tennis elbow and I continued therapy for about 2 mo. I was not getting better so the Dr. I had been seeing there suggested she inject my elbow to block the pain and she said the pain would probably never come back. I went back to see her about 2 weeks later and still no pain so she released me to full duty and said to just call if I had anymore problems. Well I woke up about 4 mos. Later (approx. March 2013) in exruciating pain in my elbow so I went back in and first off they said my case was closed and they would have to get the visits approved from the pinnacol assurance case manager, I was upset that my case was closed when we did not even know whether the injections would work or not but finally they reopened the case and then the Dr. Said that I would have to see their hand specialist because there is nothing else she could do but to also go ahead and start back up on the p.t. appts. In approx. April 2013 I saw their hand surgeon and he said we needed to schedule an mri because the xray they did only showed bone and nothing else. Well the mri showed a very large tear of the lateral epicondyle and the surgeon and I discussed what to do, and I got a second opinion with another one of their surgeons. They said p.t. would no longer help and I had to have surgery and it wouldnt get any worse so I continued working for my employer with a helper to finish the contract that they had no one else to do, so after having a negative ekg while trying to get surgery clearance I had to go through a stress test and other blood work and was finally okd for surgery on jan. 6th, 2014 he did an epicondyle release with about a 3″ incision. I saw my surgeon every couple of weeks and then I started p.t. again the beg. Of march. I saw the surgeon last around may and he said come back if I had anymore problems. My Dr. At concentra took me off strengthening exercises around july after already taking me off several of the exercises previously around may because of pain and strength issues. We all agreed that I will probably not be able to do my job again. But now they are making me go see a “delayed recovery dr.” At another concentra location, however the surgeon told me it could take 6mos to a year to recover. I received a letter from pinnacol assurance stating they want me to apply for disability which I was told by the concetra DR.. That they just wanna make sure that I cant be getting paid from somewhere else. What do you think about all this ? Do you have any recommendations for me ?
    Thank you, concerned in colorado.
    also, I have never had a lost time workers comp. Accident before this one.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My recommendation is to make sure you have a Colorado attorney to represent you in your workers’ compensation case. With regards to Social Security, whether you have a good claim depends upon your permanent work restrictions. Until you know what those are, it is difficult to assess your case as it pertains to Social Security Disability. Once you have been discharged from treatment, you need to obtain from your treating doctor his/her opinions as to what, if any, permanent work restrictions you have.

      David

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