Disability Benefits With A Herniated Disc

A herniated or ruptured disc can cause significant pain if not treated correctly.  In some cases, the injury may be permanent.  A herniated disc is caused when the spinal disc between the vertebrae has been ruptured or misaligned causing injury to the nerves.  A herniated disc can be caused by physical trauma or injury, age or degenerative disc disease.  The resulting pain is often felt in the back, legs or arms and can be tingling, numbing or shooting down the extremities.  In addition to the pain, there is often associated muscle weakness.  Although a herniated disc can be diagnosed by physical examination, most often your treating physician will order an x-ray, MRI or possibly a CT scan.  Treatment for herniated discs can range from rest and medication to physical therapy or even surgical intervention.

Social Security will evaluate an application alleging disability because of herniated disc under Listing 1.04.

1.04 Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture), resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord. With:

A. 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);


B. 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 2 hours;


C. 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, as defined in 1.00B2b.

If you do not meet Listing 1.04, Social Security will assess your ability to perform other work with your limitations to determine eligibility.