Back pain is a serious problem for many Americans, to one extent or another. Estimates are that 80 percent of Americans deal with some kind of back pain in their lifetime. The range of conditions includes everything from sciatica to herniated discs, neuropathy, and spinal stenosis. In some cases, the pain can be managed with chiropractic, massage, exercise, stretching and other remedies. In other cases, surgery and pain medication are used to manage the condition.
It should come as no surprise that back pain is common condition cited in Social Security disability applications. Such conditions fall under the agency's listing for the musculoskeletal system. This category of impairments includes conditions involving major dysfunction of joints, disorders of the spine, and soft tissue injuries.
One of the ways an individual with debilitating back pain can qualify for Social Security disability benefits is by providing adequate medical evidence to satisfy the conditions listed in an entry in the agency's listing of impairments. Many of those with severe back pain are not able to do this, though. Fortunately, there is another way to qualify for benefits.
This alternate way of qualifying is by means of a medical vocational allowance. This involves a determination that, even though the applicant does not meet the criteria of any official listing, he or she is still deemed disabled because of a combination of factors, including their prior work experience, age, disability, and other factors. Sometimes applicants with multiple impairments can qualify this way. All of this information can be found on the Social Security website, but it can help to work with an experienced disability attorney.
Source: Fox News, "A new approach to understanding back pain," May 11, 2014.