If you have arthritis in the back or spine, it can cause severe pain and limit your mobility. Any kind of spinal condition can disrupt your ability to function on a daily basis. If you cannot work due to spinal arthritis, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Below, we discuss the criteria used to determine if an individual is legally disabled and eligible for monthly payments. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer based in Phoenix is prepared to help you file a disability claim or proceed with an appeal if you have already been denied benefits.
Our firm offers free initial consultations without any risk or legal obligation. We do not get paid up front for our services nor do we get paid unless and until we help you obtain the benefits you need.
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Factors That Lead to Arthritis in the Back or Spine
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints. If you suffer from spinal arthritis, it is due to the inflammation of the joints in the spine. The inflammation may also impact the areas where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones of the spine.
Arthritis can happen anywhere along the spine but it is more frequent in the lower back. Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis, but other symptoms may include:
- Loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten the back
- Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
- A grinding sensation when moving the spine
- Weakness and fatigue throughout the entire body
The exact cause of spinal arthritis is not definitive but may be related to normal wear and tear (osteoarthritis), autoimmune disorders, infections and other conditions. Other factors that may lead to arthritis in the back or spine are:
- Irritation of the smaller nerves of the spine
- Injury to the bones, ligaments or joints
- Strain on the large-paired back muscles
- Injury to the intervertebral disks
Unfortunately, spinal arthritis is often chronic. However, certain treatment is available to help reduce symptoms, such as pain medications, steroid injections and physical therapy. In the most severe cases, surgery may be warranted.
Medical Criteria Required
The medical criteria required for arthritis in the back or spine is similar to claims filed for back pain or spinal cord injuries. As long as your medical documentation can prove that your condition has made you unable to work or perform work-related tasks, you may be eligible to file a disability claim.
The SSA will only approve spinal arthritis claims that are the most severe and are expected to last for at least 12 months. To evaluate the severity of your condition, the SSA will consider your limitations.
For instance, if you suffer from sharp muscle spasms in the back, it can make it very difficult to stand or sit. Any stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine can worsen with bending, twisting, lifting or walking. It is important that your treating doctor carefully document all of your limitations.
Comparable Listings in the Blue Book
In addition to providing sufficient medical evidence, you must also meet the criteria established for a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book to qualify for disability benefits.
There are two listings under Musculoskeletal Disorders and one listing under Immune System Disorders that refer to arthritis and the impairments that an individual may suffer from:
This listing covers disorders of the skeletal spine as well as the upper and lower extremities that affect musculoskeletal functioning. If your arthritis has resulted in severe impairment of the bones or joints in your spine, you may be able to qualify under Listing 1.01.
Listing 1.15 covers disorders of the skeletal spine that results in the compromise of nerve roots. Examples of back or spine conditions that can cause nerve root compression include osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis), generative disk disease and vertebral fracture. You may qualify under this listing if your arthritis is putting pressure on the lower part of your spine and causing nerve root pain.
Conditions under this listing are for inflammatory arthritis. You must provide sufficient medical proof that your arthritis has led to extreme limited flexibility of the spine that interferes with your ability to walk on your own.
Need Help Filing a Disability Claim?
Dayes Law Firm is here to help. We know how difficult it may be to obtain initial approval for benefits, which is why we are also prepared to proceed with an appeal on your behalf if it is necessary. A consultation is 100 percent free and confidential with no obligation to have us represent you.
If you have a valid claim and decide to move forward, there are no upfront fees for our services. We only get paid at the end of the claims or appeals process if we help you obtain disability benefits.
Talk to a lawyer today: 1-800-503-2000