Degenerative Disc Disease DiagnosisDegenerative disc disease, sometimes called spondylosis or disc degeneration, is a condition in which the discs located between the vertebrae of your spine gradually deteriorate. This common disorder can cause pain and stiffness, as well as a decrease in mobility. If a degenerative disc disease diagnosis keeps you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

How Can Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms Affect Your Ability to Work?

The spaces between each of your vertebrae are filled with cartilage-like pads called discs, which act as cushions that absorb shock and allow movement. As you age, these discs start to shrink and lose some of their flexibility. This can cause them to bulge or even break open.

Degenerative disc disease is most often found in the lower back and neck, although it can occur in any part of the spine. The most common symptom of degenerative disc disease is pain that worsens with repeated movement or following a period of rest. In some cases, numbness or tingling may be present. Other common symptoms include stiffness, muscle spasms, decreased range of motion, and difficulty standing or walking.

Degenerative disc disease can make it difficult to perform tasks that involve regular bending, lifting, or twisting of the spine. It can also cause difficulty standing for long periods of time or sitting in one position for extended amounts of time. As a result, individuals with degenerative disc disease may find it hard to carry out certain job duties, particularly those that require physical exertion.

How Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits for individuals who are unable to work due to a serious medical condition. The general requirements for SSDI benefits are as follows:

  • You must have worked and paid taxes for at least five of the last ten years before becoming disabled.
  • You must be unable to do any type of work that qualifies as substantial gainful activity due to your disability. In other words, your medical condition must prevent you from performing basic job tasks.
  • Your disability must be expected to last at least a year or result in death.

Do not give up hope if you are denied SSDI benefits based on your initial application. Most claimants have their initial application denied, but it may be possible to appeal the decision with the help of a qualified Social Security disability attorney. A lawyer can help ensure your application is complete and accurate, increasing your chances of being approved to receive benefits.

Would you like to learn more? Your Guide to a Successful Social Security Disability Claim: What Claimants, Their Family Members, and Healthcare Providers Need to Know provides more information about the general criteria for an SSDI claim. We encourage you to request your copy of this free e-book today.

What Does the Blue Book Say About SSDI Benefits for Disc Degeneration?

The SSA uses a publication known as the Blue Book, or more formally, the "Listing of Impairments," to evaluate medical conditions for disability benefits. The Blue Book provides guidelines for determining whether a specific condition meets the criteria for disability.

Degenerative disc disease is included in 1.00 - Musculoskeletal Disorders - Adult. To qualify for SSDI benefits based on this condition, the SSA must find that your symptoms cause significant limitations in one or more of the following:

  • Range of motion
  • Motor function
  • Coordination

Additionally, you must be able to provide medical evidence, such as X-rays and MRIs, demonstrating degenerative changes or spondylotic changes. A complete medical history is required, including records of when your pain started, physical therapy or other treatment options you have tried, and healthcare providers you consulted.

If your condition does not meet the formal Blue Book criteria, you may still be able to receive benefits if it can be shown that it substantially limits your ability to perform basic daily activities. A Social Security disability attorney can help you determine the most appropriate course of action for your disability case.

How Much Money Can I Receive From SSDI?

The Social Security Administration uses a complex formula to calculate SSDI benefit amounts. However, as of 2023, the average monthly benefit amount for SSDI recipients is $1,483 and the maximum benefit amount is $3,627.

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