Qualifying For Disability With Back Pain

Many of us live with some form of back pain or arthritis.  Although at times uncomfortable, most of us are able to continue to work despite our limitations.  Back pain alone will not qualify a claimant for disability benefits.

To qualify for benefits, your claim will be evaluated under the Social Security Administation (SSA) five step sequential evaluation process.  First, you must show that you are not engaging in substantial gainful activity and that your back condition is a severe impairment. Your condition must be supported by medical tests and documentation such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), treatment notes , chiropractic care, physical therapy and/or pain management.

At step 3, SSA will evaluate your claim to determine if you meet or equal a listing for your back condition.  The applicable listing for back injuries is found at 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:

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Increase In Social Security Disability Benefits For 2014

Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a cost of living adjustment of 1.5% for 2014.  As a result, monthly benefits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will rise next year.

With the increase, the maximum federal benefit for an individual receiving SSI will rise from $710 per month to $721. The benefit for a couple on SSI will grow from $1,066 per month to $1,082. Many states add to SSI benefits for their residents meaning that actual payments could exceed these caps.  Massachusetts is one of the States that adds a supplemental benefit.

Qualifying For Disability Benefits With ADHD

A diagnosis for ADHD, like other conditions and injuries, does not mean a child will automatically qualify for disability benefits.  Children under 18 diagnosed with ADHD will be granted benefits if the severity of their condition meets the Social Security Administrations (SSA) impairment listing, or functionally equals the listing.   The applicable listing for ADHD can be found at 112.11 of the children’s listings.

To meet listing 112.11, your child must have all three (3) symptoms of ADHD:  marked inattention, marked impulsiveness and marked hyperactivity.  For children 3-18, the claimant must have severe difficulty in at least two (2) of the following four (4) areas:

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Breakthrough In Down Syndrome Research at UMass Medical

I read a very interesting article recently on the UMass Medical School website regarding Down Syndrome research.  Scientists at UMass have found a way to block or neutralize the extra chromosome that causes developmental problems and intellectual disabilities in people with Down Syndrome.   The discovery “may one day help establish potential therapeutic targets for future therapies.”  To read the entire article, see the UMass website.  Please  refer to Nature to read the details of the study.

Ticket To Work Program

AARP posted an interesting article recently regarding the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Ticket To Work Program. The Ticket To Work program allows beneficiaries to attempt to reenter the workforce without automatically losing their benefits.  The program arranges free vocational training,  rehabilitation, job referrals, and employment assistance. To read the full article, click here.

Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability – Part 2

In the first part of this five part series, we discussed substantial gainful activity at step 1 of the sequential evaluation process and how working affects eligibility to social security disability.  In this series, we will discuss how the severity of your medical condition factors in to the eligibility process.

To recap, the Social Security Administration uses the five step sequential evaluation to determine eligibility.  If you fail at any step, your claim will be denied.

  • Step 1 – Are you currently working?
  • Step 2 – Is your condition severe?
  • Step 3 – Does your medical condition meet or equal a listed impairment?
  • Step 4 – Can you perform past work?
  • Step 5 – Can you do any other type of work?

Step 2

If  you are not working, or are working below the subtantial gainful activity level, you will pass step 1 to be evaluated at step 2.  At step 2, your condition must prevent you from performing basic work activities for at least twelve (12) months to qualify for activities.  If your condition will prevent you from working for less than a year, you will be denied.  Private short-term and long-term disability insurance benefits may be available in those situations.  The timing of your application may affect the outcome of your claim in some cases.  Therefore, it may be wise to consult with a disability attorney to determine when you should apply.

In the next series, we will discuss step 3, “Does your medical condition meet or equal a listed impairment?”