Disability Benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease

Can You Get Disability for Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease is a medical condition which arises due to degeneration or wear and tear of the discs of the spine to include cervical, lumbar, and thoracic spines. This degeneration of the spine is a natural process and usually starts after an individual has crossed the age of 50 but in some cases it can start much earlier especially if there is a history of trauma or overuse of the spine. Degenerative Disc Disease occurs when the discs of the spine start to degenerate and shrink resulting in severe pain and reduction in mobility among other disabling symptoms, although in some cases this degeneration may be completely asymptomatic and not interfere with any activities of the individual.

Can You Get Disability for Degenerative Disc Disease?

When speaking of disability benefits or SSD/SSI benefits, Degenerative Disc Disease is perhaps the third most common impairment for which people apply for disability after hypertension and diabetes and their respective complications. Although there are many claims put forward to the SSA due to Degenerative Disc Disease, only a few claims actually get accepted.

A claimant with Degenerative Disc Disease can only win a claim for his or her condition only if the condition is significantly impairing the claimant’s ability to work under any capacity and also impairing activities of daily living significantly. Winning an SSD/SSI claim for degenerative disc disease gets even tougher if the age of the individual is less then 40. Claimants applying for SSI/SSD benefits due to Degenerative Disc Disease usually are those who work in construction where they have to lift heavy materials repetitively and other professions where repetitive lifting is required.

Now coming to the question of whether a person can get SSI/SSD benefits or disability benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease, as stated above it is difficult but still a claimant can get disability benefits due to Degenerative Disc Disease.

What Does SSA Look For in Cases Related to SSD/SSI Benefits Due to Degenerative Disc Disease?

The SSA knows that there are a lot of people who have this condition and are still able to be gainfully employed in their respective fields of work, hence it expects the claimant to go back to previous level of activity after a period of rest and treatment even though it may look unfair for the claimant and more so if the claimant genuinely is unable to perform his or her previous level of activity effectively due to the pain and disability due to Degenerative Disc Disease. This is why the treatments being rendered to the claimant and the effectiveness of it become important and thus the role of medical records pertaining to it is extremely important for winning a disability claim.

Documents giving objective evidence of the degree of disease in the form of radiological studies like CT scansMRI studies, and x-rays right from when the disease was diagnosed till the time the claimant has filed a claim puts weight on the claimant’s case. The claimant should have enough documentary evidence supporting his claim that he or she is neither able to work in the previous capacity nor is the claimant able to be gainfully employed in any other vocation and the condition has impacted the claimant in such a way that the claimant is not able to sit or stand for significant periods of time, bend repetitively, twist repetitively, or lift any significant amount of weight without recreating his or her symptoms again supported by evidence in the form of medical records and radiological studies.

What are the Chances of Getting Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Degenerative Disc Disease?

As soon as a disability claim pertaining to Degenerative Disc Disease is placed in front of the SSA, the first thing that is looked into is what are the documentation that has been provided in support of the claim. Documentation would involve medical records pertaining to when the diagnosis was made, what has been the duration and the extent of symptoms, what are the treatments rendered to the claimant and what has been the response, compliance of the claimant to treatments provided.

Additionally, it will be very helpful if your medical records also signify how the condition of Degenerative Disc Disease has impacted your ability to work at home and in the work environment, how much has the condition worsened since the diagnosis which will have to be proved objectively in the form of radiological studies like CT scan, MRI scan, and x-ray studies.

A claimant can get disability benefit if there is evidence that the Degenerative Disc Disease has worsened to such an extent that it has caused nerve root impingement and spinal stenosis which can be easily seen on MRI and CT scans. The provider should clearly mention that due to these conditions, the claimant is precluded to perform any activity that may worsen the condition like prolonged standing, walking, repetitive bending or heavy lifting which may damaged the spine even more. Hence it is very important for the claimant to have latest radiologic studies available to prove the worsening of the condition.

The SSA will also look into details like how the condition has affected the range of motion of the spine of the claimant, if there has been a reduction in the muscular strength of the claimant due to this condition and the like.

Role of SSD Attorney or Disability Attorney in Helping You Win Disability Benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease

Even if a claimant has enough documented evidence favoring his or her claim, if it is not presented in front of the judge in an appropriate way, the claimant may not be able to get the decision in his or her favor. For this, the claimant needs to hire an experienced disability attorney who can prepare and present the claimant’s case in the best possible way so that Disability Benefit is granted. SSD attorneys have significant knowledge as to what the judge might require of the claimant during the hearing and what are the other relevant information that needs to be furnished in front of the judge at the time of hearing to win a disability claim for degenerative disc disease.

It should be noted here that an SSD attorney gets paid only after the claimant has been granted disability benefit, thus the attorney does all he or she can to get the claimant disability benefits


In summary, an individual with a confirmed diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease to such an extent that he or she is unable to be gainfully employed in any position and has enough credible evidence supporting his or her claim needs to work in close relationship with his or her treating physician and an experienced SSD attorney so as to win Social Security Disability Benefits due to Degenerative Disc Disease.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 24, 2019

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