SSDI for spinal conditionComprised of nerve cells and groups of nerves, the spinal cord extends downward from the base of the brain and is responsible for relaying messages between the brain and other parts of the body. If you injure your spinal cord or suffer from a spinal condition, loss of sensation or mobility may result. 

Are you living with a disabling spinal cord injury or disorder that prevents work or substantial gainful activity? You may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Here's what you need to know about qualifying for SSDI for a spinal condition, including how Keefe Disability Law's skilled Boston attorneys can help you apply for – and obtain – the benefits you deserve.

SSDI Eligibility 

Eligibility for SSDI is based on three main factors: work history, severity, and duration of the disability. To qualify for benefits, you must have worked in jobs that pay into Social Security long enough to have amassed sufficient work credits and have a medically determinable impairment that stems from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities and can be supported by diagnostic evidence from acceptable medical sources. Qualifying medical impairments and the criteria necessary to be approved for benefits are found in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Blue Book Listing of Impairments. Additionally, in order to secure benefits, the spinal condition in question must have lasted – or be expected to last – for 12 months or longer.

Meeting a Listing Versus Equaling a Listing 

There are two ways to qualify for SSDI: meeting a listing or equaling a listing. Meeting a listing, which means you match the Blue Book criteria for your spinal condition, is the easiest path to approval. However, even if you have a spinal disorder listed in the Blue Book, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll exactly meet the criteria needed to be approved for benefits.

In that case, you can attempt to equal a listing by providing evidence to show that your spinal condition is equally disabling. This involves completing a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation, which is a thorough assessment of your impairments, how they impact your ability to work, and what you can still do in spite of them. The RFC should include extensive evidence and documentation from your doctors. Also, please note that Social Security Administration (SSA) Disability Determination Services (DDS) gives greater weight to medical diagnoses and evidence from specialists than family doctors or general practitioners.

Spinal Conditions That Qualify for SSDI

Spinal disorders that may qualify you for SSDI benefits include:

  • Spinal cord injury. Often caused by trauma, such as a car accident, the effects of a spinal cord injury can vary dramatically depending on the location and severity of the damage.
  • Degenerative disc disease. Spinal discs provide cushioning between the vertebrae. When these discs begin to break down, spinal pain and weakness can result.
  • Herniated disc. In this condition, a portion of a spinal disc's soft nucleus protrudes through a tear or rupture in the harder outer layer, causing nerve irritation, numbness in one or more limbs, and intense pain.
  • Nerve root compression. When a herniated disc presses against nerve roots, severe radiating pain, loss of sensation, and loss of motor control can result.
  • Osteoarthritis. As the cartilage that covers the spine begins to break down, the vertebrae rub against each other, producing friction that can cause back stiffness and constant pain. 
  • Spinal stenosis. Nerves pressed against the spinal column can cause throbbing pain, muscle weakness, and numbness throughout the thighs, buttocks, and lower back.
  • Sciatica. Issues with the sciatic nerve can send intense pain shooting down the spinal cord and into the lower back and legs.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for Social Security disability, you need to speak with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer