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SSDI EvaluationDisability Personal Story

Bulging discs and Social Security Disability Insurance

Bulging Discs SSDI GuidelinesHere is an explanation of Social Security's five-step process to determine if a patient who suffers from bulging discs  qualifies for SSDI:

1.  Determine if an individual is "working (engaging in substantial gainful activity)" according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,040 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.

2.  Conclude the bulging discs disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one's ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example:
  • Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
  • Seeing, hearing and speaking
  • Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
  • Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
  • Dealing with changes in a routine work setting
3.  Bulging discs are listed under the category of impairments known as Musculoskeletal System - Medical Listing 1.04. The following criteria have been established indicative of the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity, i.e., if one has a diagnosis of a disorder of the spine (bulging discs) and one of the following, a finding of disabled under the Social Security Act is warranted:
  • Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine).
  • Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every two hours.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively.

4.  Explore the ability of an individual to perform work they have done in the past despite their bulging discs. If the SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.

5.  Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine bulging discs disability, the SSA enlists medical-vocational rules, which vary according to age.

For example, if a person is:

Under age 50 and, as a result of the symptoms of bulging discs, unable to perform what the SSA calls sedentary work, then the SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Sedentary work requires the ability to lift a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, sit six hours and occasionally walk and stand two hours per eight-hour day.

Age 50 or older and, due to the bulging discs disability, limited to performing sedentary work, but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Age 55 or older and, due to the disability, limited to performing light work, but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Over age 60 and, due to the bulging discs disability unable to perform any of the jobs he performed in the last 15 years, the SSA will likely reach a determination of disabled.

Any age and, because of bulging discs, has a psychological impairment that prevents even simple, unskilled work, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Check out information regarding the prescription drugs used to treat bulging discs.

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