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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
Fax 508-309-6954

Q
Can I obtain Social Security disability benefits if I have scoliosis?

A

If you suffer from scoliosis, you may find yourself suffering on a daily basis from pain and other discomfort that makes it difficult to carry out everyday tasks, including the ability to work to support yourself. This can create significant stress and strain not only on yourself, but also on your loved ones. It is important to focus on getting healthy rather than worrying about financial pressures. Fortunately, Social Security disability benefits can provide sufferers of scoliosis with the support they need.

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition characterized by an abnormal curve in the spine. People with scoliosis have a spine that curves in either a “C” or an “S” shape. The severity of the condition tends to vary greatly among individual sufferers. To be diagnosed with scoliosis, the spinal curvature must extend more than 10 degrees laterally when viewed from the front. There are four main types of this condition, as outlined below:

  1. Congenital scoliosis. This type of scoliosis exists when the spinal curvature is present at birth.
  2. Idiopathic scoliosis. This type of scoliosis is the most common form, and is generally thought to be hereditary.
  3. Degenerative scoliosis. This type of scoliosis occurs after a bone collapse caused by a traumatic injury. It can also be caused by osteoporosis or develop after a major back surgery.
  4. Neuromuscular scoliosis. This type of scoliosis stems from nerve or muscle abnormalities. It is often accompanied by conditions affecting the neuromuscular junction, such as spina bifida.

Some people suffering from scoliosis may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Why do People With Scoliosis Need Disability Benefits?

While some people experience only minor effects as a result of their scoliosis, others who have a more severe case may find it difficult or impossible to work. Severe scoliosis can lead to significant physical limitations, including reduced lung capacity and breathing function. The curvature of the spine may put pressure on the nerves that results in slower functioning. Sufferers may deal with persistent pain as well as spinal and nerve damage. In the most severe cases, patients may need spinal surgery to insert metal poles in the spine to straighten it out. The effects of severe scoliosis can make it impossible to work, leading to significant financial strain for sufferers and their families.

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits When You Have Scoliosis

Fortunately for people with scoliosis, the Social Security Administration does recognize the condition among its listing of impairments. Scoliosis itself does not have its own listing. However, if the condition is severe enough, victims may meet the requirements for the listing of “disorders of the spine.” In addition, people with severe scoliosis that affects the ability to breathe or the functioning of the heart may qualify for disability benefits under the listings for respiratory disorders or cardiovascular disorders.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits as a disorder of the spine requires that you have at least one of the following:

  1. Nerve root compression causing pain, muscle weakness, or limiting your ability to move your legs
  2. Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spine causing pain that requires you to change position more than once every two hours
  3. Narrowing of the spine causing chronic pain and weakness and limiting your ability to walk

In addition, there are certain criteria for nerve root compression, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spine, and narrowing the spine that must be met as well.

In order to be approved for benefits, you must demonstrate to the Social Security Administration that you have sufficient medical evidence proving you have the above spinal disorders. There are various types of medical evidence that you may use to support your claims. This evidence may include the following:

  1. Results from medical imaging tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans.
  2. Results from a physical examination including a detailed description of your limitations caused by the spinal condition.
  3. Records of ongoing treatment that shows that the impairment is not improving despite undergoing therapy to try and treat it.

While applying for disability benefits may feel like an overwhelming process for those who have not done so in the past, it is important to get started quickly. The faster you start the application process, the quicker you will begin to receive Social Security disability benefits. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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