How to Qualify for Social Security Disability If You Have Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Disease Bone IconAn osteoporosis diagnosis won’t automatically qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. However, osteoporosis can cause back pain, a “bent over” posture, a decrease in height, and an increased likelihood of bone fractures. You may be unable to work despite medical treatment, and, in some instances, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you know how to get them.

Who Usually Develops Osteoporosis?

Anyone can get osteoporosis. Some factors that make osteoporosis more likely, include:

  • Sex: More women than men get osteoporosis.
  • Age: The risk of osteoporosis increases as you grow older.
  • Genetics: Your risk is more significant when members of your family have a history of broken bones.
  • Hormone levels: Lower estrogen levels caused by menopause (and sometimes cancer treatments) and too much thyroid hormone can increase your chances.
  • Diet: Not enough calcium, anorexia, and weight-loss surgery are also factors.
  • Medications: Some medications prescribed for seizures, depression, and other disorders can increase risk. Steroids can also factor in.
  • Lifestyle: If you sit around a lot, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or use tobacco, you are considered more likely to develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis becomes disabling when it is severe enough to cause bones to break easily. For example, spine and hip fractures are common and may be disabling.

Osteoporosis Treatment

This potentially devastating condition is treated mainly with medication. Most commonly, bisphosphonates are prescribed. Well-known osteoporosis prescriptions include Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, and Zometa.

Sometimes estrogen for women and testosterone for men are recommended to increase bone density. Other, less common medications are prescribed if you can’t tolerate the more usual ones. One, teriparatide (Forteo), is a hormone injected under the skin. However, long-term effects are not fully understood, so it is not recommended patients use this drug for more than two years.

Unfortunately, medications aren’t always well-tolerated and don’t always work.

When Does Osteoporosis Become Disabling?

You may be eligible for Social Security disability if you have a condition included in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments, have a condition equal in severity to a Blue Book listing, or can’t work because of your condition.

The most common Blue Book listings for people with osteoporosis include:

  • Section 1.22 Non-healing or complex fracture of the femur, tibia, pelvis, or one or more of the talocrural bones
  • Section 1.23 Non-healing or complex fracture of an upper extremity 
  • Section 6.00 Genitourinary or kidney disorders
  • Section 9.00 Parathyroid gland disorders
  • Section 14.00 Immune system disorders

In some cases, you may not meet the strict requirements for any Blue Book listing. Yet you may still be eligible for Social Security disability if you prove why your condition is equal in severity to a specific blue book listing. For example, maybe you suffer multiple breaks or injuries a year of bones that are not included in Section 1.22 or 1.23, and these breaks impact your life in the same way as a break that would be covered by Sections 1.22 or 1.23.

Alternatively, you may submit an application that proves that you do not have the residual functional capacity to work given your age, work history, education, skills, medical condition, symptoms, and treatments.

Prepare to File a Social Security Disability Application

Any Social Security disability application you complete should have the required information and supporting evidence, including but not limited to:

  • Medical documentation about your pain and how you walk
  • Medical documentation about any assistive devices you use, such as a walker or cane
  • Medical documentation about how your condition impacts your life. For example, can you travel alone or run errands independently?
  • The results of your bone density tests and blood work
  • X-rays, CT scans, and other diagnostic test results for any broken bones you’ve suffered because of osteoporosis
  • Hospitalization records
  • Medication records
  • Medical documentation of any medication or treatment side effects

Unfortunately, the majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. Many of these applicants qualify for Social Security disability but did not prove their eligibility on their application. While they may later get disability benefits on appeal, they have lost time and are enduring additional stress because of preventable mistakes.

Our experienced Massachusetts Social Security disability lawyers can help you avoid these kinds of mistakes and get you the benefits you’ve earned if you can’t work because of osteoporosis. We will be happy to review your potential claim and provide you with an honest assessment of your likelihood of getting benefits.

Please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your Social Security disability for osteoporosis.

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