Disc Bulge is quite a common finding in people. It is a medical condition in which the disc protrudes outward and compresses the nerve roots. Most of the cases of Disc Bulge are asymptomatic but at times they tend to cause severe symptoms of pain and discomfort which can make it difficult for the affected individual to carry out activities of daily living and work related activities rendering the individual disabled. This article gives detailed information about whether you can qualify for social security disability benefits for disc bulge, and how an experienced disability attorney can improve your chances of winning disability for bulging disc.

Disc Bulge Or Bulging Disc

Disc Bulge And Disability

Disc Bulge or Bulging Discs is a medical condition in which the outer part of the disk protrudes outwards into the spinal canal. Bulging Disc is usually asymptomatic but tends to cause symptoms of severe pain and discomfort when it impinges on the adjacent nerve roots. Disc Bulge or Bulging Disc is more common than disc herniation and occurs with age. As an individual ages the outer portion of the disc gets weak resulting in the inner parts of the disc to bulge outward. Moreover, if an individual is involved in manual labor which puts added pressure on the back then disc bulge tends to develop faster than normal.
Most of the times an individual with a Disc Bulge or Bulging Disc may not even realize the problem until it starts to cause symptoms. When the bulge is significant enough to cause symptoms, then the affected individual may experience symptoms of low back pain with radiation of pain down the hips to the legs. The most common area where a disc bulge or bulging disc occurs is the L4-L5 region of the lumbar spine which compresses the L5 and S1 nerve root.
Bulging Disc is quite a common occurrence in young adults and the elderly population. Due to disc bulge, there is compression of the nerve roots causing symptoms. Some of the symptoms caused by a bulging disc are:

  • Severe radiating pain
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness. With numbness and tingling in the legs
  • Hyperactive reflexes in the legs
  • Bowel and bladder habit changes
  • Paralysis below the waist.

Now to answer the question of whether Disc Bulge can make an individual disabled then the answer is yes. Even though most of the times, a disc bulge does not cause any symptoms but when there is impingement on the nerve roots then there is development of symptoms which can be severe enough to restrict an individual from working in a productive manner consistently, especially those individuals who are involved with manual labor requiring heavy lifting, pushing and thus the individual may apply for SSD benefits due to Disc Bulge or Bulging Disc.

Does Disc Bulge Or Bulging Disc Qualify For Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a manual for granting disability benefits to claimants which lists out medical conditions which qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. This manual is known as the Blue Book. This manual has a comprehensive list of medical conditions which according to SSA qualify for Social Security Disability benefits provided the claimant fulfills the criteria specified in the Blue Book.

Based on the Blue Book, SSA considers Disc Bulge or Bulging Disc a disorder of the Spine and has listed it in Section 1.04 of Blue Book. In order to qualify for disability due to Disc Bulge or Bulging Disc, the first and foremost thing is that the claimant should have proof that the condition has been present for nothing less than a year of diagnosis or is expected to last for a year. This is a tough ask as symptoms of disc bulge or bulging disc either resolve on their own within a year or may be corrected by surgical procedures like spinal fusion, laminectomy, or discectomy. Additionally, the claimant needs to prove that the symptoms caused by the bulging disc are significant enough that based on the age, educational qualifications, and job history the claimant is not able to work in any position in a productive manner consistently.

Role Of Disability Attorney In Helping You Win Disability For Disc Bulge Or Bulging Disc?

Statistics suggest that more often than not a claimant applying for SSD benefits without hiring an experienced SSD attorney get their claim denied initially. This is because majority of the claimants applying for disability have little to no idea about how to present their case in front of the judge at the time of hearing. Hence it is always advisable to hire an experienced SSD attorney specializing in back pain disability in order to prepare the case and present it to the judge in the best possible way. A disability attorney or a lawyer having significant expertise in handling back pain disability cases is the best person to present the case in front of the judge in the most appropriate manner. Disability attorney is also quite familiar with rules of Social Security Administration and thus is in a better position to help the claimant get disability benefits for disc bulge or bulging disc. The SSD attorney/lawyer also has significant knowledge as to what the judge might require of the claimant during the hearing and what is the other information that needs to be furnished in front of the judge at the time of hearing to prove the functional limitations caused because of disc bulge or bulging disc to win a disability claim. Disability attorney or a lawyer 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 for disc bulge.

What Are The Chances Of Getting Disability Benefits For Disc Bulge Or Bulging Disc?

In order to qualify for disability benefits due to disc bulge, there should be diagnostic records suggesting disc bulge is resulting in compromise of the nerve root or the spinal cord along with evidence of neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limited of motion of spine, motor loss associated with muscle weakness and positive straight leg raise test in case of low back pain.

The claimant will also have to prove that there is significant restriction in motion of the lower extremities, reduced sensory response, and severe muscle weakness. This all need to be mentioned in the treating physician's notes and need to be produced in front of the judge at the time of hearing. In case if the claimant does not meet the above mentioned requirements, then he or she will have to furnish proof of the work limitations caused due to Disc Bulge despite adequate treatment. This can be in the form of physician notes restricting the claimant from working in a capacity where the claimant may put extra pressure on the back causing painful symptoms. The SSA will assess the evidence along with the age of the claimant and the educational qualifications whether the claimant fits into any job profile or can be considered for vocational rehabilitation. If the SSA determines that the claimant does not fit into any job profile then the claimant may be granted disability benefits due to Disc Bulge. Usually if the claimant is above 50 years of age then the chances of getting disability benefits significantly increase.

If an individual gets severely disabled due to symptoms caused by disc bulge to an extent that he or she is not able to carry out activities of daily living or work related activities for a consistent period of time in a productive manner despite adequate treatment then the individual has a good chance of getting SSD benefits for disc bulge. For this the individual will need to work in close proximity with the treating physician and an experienced disability attorney/lawyer who will prepare the case in the best possible way so that the individual wins the bulging disc disability claim.

Concluding Note To Improve Your Chances Of Getting SSD/SSI Benefits Due To Disc Bulge Or Bulging Disc

In summary, an individual who has been diagnosed with Disc Bulge, the symptoms of which has lasted for 1 year or is expected to last for a year, and is experiencing significant symptoms of back pain with pain radiating down to the legs and causing significant muscle weakness to an extent that he or she is not able to maintain any gainful employment for a consistent period of time then the individual may work in coordination with the treating physician and an experienced SSD attorney to prepare and present the case. Treating physicians opinion about your functional limitations caused because of disc bulge will be very vital. If the claimant has documented proof of the condition and has proof that he or she is unable to work under any occupation at even sedentary levels for a consistent period of time due to the symptoms caused by bulging disc then the chances of the claimant qualifying for SSD benefits due to disc bulge becomes extremely good. Remember, as stated above, back pain disability attorney gets paid only after the claimant wins disability benefits thus the attorney does all he or she can to get the claimant the rightfully deserving SSD/SSI benefits for disc bulge.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: September 1, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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