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Information and News regarding Social Security Disability for Renda Law in Tacoma, WA

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Todd R. Renda, Social Security Disability and SSI Disability Attorney

Spinal Cord Conditions that May Qualify for Disability Benefits

Back and spinal cord conditions are some of the more common disabilities when it comes to Social Security disability benefits. These conditions can be difficult to prove, because much of the evidence is subjective in nature, such as pain, which everyone experiences differently. However, objective medical evidence can help you establish the validity of your claim.

How the SSA Evaluates Back Claims

The Social Security Administration (SSA) often evaluates claims for back pain based on three elements:

Objective Symptoms

Objective symptoms are those that can be verified through medical and other records. Which can include doctor’s notes and diagnoses, imaging results and laboratory tests, etc. Additionally, the SSA will compare your symptoms with the impairment listing for spinal disorders. Examples of objective symptoms that may establish your disability that the SSA may accept include:

·         A CT scan that shows you have spinal stenosis

·         An X-ray that shows a fractured vertebra

·         An MRI that details bone degeneration

·         A discography or myelogram that shows damaged area in your back

·         A nerve conduction test that shows the presence of muscle weakness

Functional Limitations

The SSA will also determine the functional limitations you have because of your disabling condition. Functional limitations are those activities that you cannot do because of your spinal condition. The more limitations you are found to have, the less likely you can perform full time work. Functional limitations are an essential factor in establishing your residual functional capacity, which is the most you can do given your limitations. The SSA uses your medical evidence to assess your residual functional capacity. Functional limitations that may be included on your assessment may include:

·         Time limits on how long you can sit or stand

·         Maximum weights that you can lift or carry on a frequent or occasional basis

·         Whether you can crouch as part of your job

·         How long you can work before needing a break

·         If you can reach overhead


Your credibility is always a factor in a disability claim. The SSA will compare the statements that you have made in your application and accompanying forms and compare them with your objective medical evidence and your treating doctors to see if your statements are consistent with this information. The SSA will also evaluate information such as:

·         How often you visit your doctor

·         Whether you have followed your doctor’s instructions

·         What treatments you have tried

·         What factors contribute to your pain or exacerbate it

·         The medications you have been prescribed for your spinal condition, the dosage and side effects

·         Information about the pain you experience, including where the pain is located, how long it lasts and its intensity

·         Your activities of daily living

·         How the pain affects your activities of daily living


Back Conditions Typically Approved for Disability Benefits

Some back conditions are more likely to be approved than others because they are easier to document in the way SSA requires. These conditions include:

Nerve Root Compression (caused when a bulging or herniated disc, spinal fracture or arthritis imposes direct pressure on a nerve)

Common symptoms of nerve root compression include:

·         Numbness

·         Weakness

·         Pain

·         Muscle wasting

Spinal Stenosis (caused by a narrowing of the spinal column, which imposes pressure on the spinal cord)

Spinal stenosis symptoms can cause pain, numbness and weakness. Additionally, people with severe spinal stenosis in the upper spine can experience bowel and bladder incontinence.

Arachnoiditis (a medical condition caused when the membrane that protects your spinal cord becomes inflamed)

Common symptoms of this condition include:

·         Weakness

·         Pain

·         Electrical sensations in your legs

·         Loss of bowel and bladder function

·         Supporting Medical Evidence Needed

To establish your back or spinal condition and the functional limitations it imposes, you will need supporting medical evidence such as:

·         MRIs

·         CTs

·         X-rays

·         Physician notes

·         Physical therapy notes

·         Notes from chiropractors

·         Medical test results

·         Myelography reports

·         Test results from a comprehensive spinal exam

Orthopedic notes from a detailed physical exam may also be considered, including testing of your muscle strength, range of motion, reflexes, sensation and your ability to bend, walk, squat and rise.

Consult with a Social Security Disability Attorney Now!

If your back condition prevents you from being able to work, we recommend that you contact us right away for a FREE consultation. At Renda Law in Tacoma we help you with every aspect of your claim, including helping you fill out the application to make sure it includes how your back pain impacts your ability to work and how it affects your quality of life outside of work.

Contact Renda Law today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. There are no upfront costs for our legal services unless we help you obtain the benefits you need.