Social Security & lumbar spondylosis

Written by tom streissguth
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Social Security & lumbar spondylosis
Those suffering disabling spinal conditions can apply for Social Security disability benefits. (thorax image by Goran Bogicevic from Fotolia.com)

Spondylosis is a degenerative condition of the spinal cord that can cause pain, inflammation, limited range of movement and numbness. Although it can be treated medically, and is sometimes responsive to surgical intervention, it can also interfere with the ability to perform gainful work. If they find themselves unable to hold or find a job conforming to their age, work experience and education level, those suffering from lumbar (lower-back) spondylosis may consider filing a Social Security disability claim.

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Coverage requirements

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a programme that benefits workers no longer able to perform the duties of their customary work. In order to be covered, a worker must have paid into the system (via the mandatory Social Security payroll tax) in five out of the last ten years (younger workers have shorter coverage requirements). Under the age of 22, those suffering a disability and who have no work experience can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Definition of disability

Social Security reviews all disability applications using claims examiners as well as consulting physicians. By Social Security's definition, a legitimate "disability" includes any documented disease, injury or condition that prevents a worker from performing substantial, gainful work activity for a period of at least twelve months, or that is expected to result in the worker's death. There are no benefits paid for partial disability.

Filing a claim

A claim for Social Security disability can be filed online, over the phone or in person at your local Social Security field office. A claimant must submit records from certified medical practitioners that fully document her conditions, the specific limitations it places on her ability to work and the physician's prognosis for any recovery. Note that Social Security does not consider a chiropractor to be a certified medical practitioner, and therefore will not consider a chiropractor's records in its decision.

Medical review

Since lumbar spondylosis is not included on Social Security's list of conditions that will automatically prompt the approval of a disability claim, the agency will conduct a medical review of the file and have you examined by a medical doctor, who works under contract to perform such reviews on Social Security's behalf. If you do not cooperate by appearing at the appointed time and place, the claim will be denied for non-cooperation.

Benefits

If approved, the disability claim will be reviewed for monthly benefit amount, which varies according to work history and the payment of any workers' compensation or other public disability benefits. In 2010, the average monthly disability benefit is slightly more than £650. Social Security imposes a five-month waiting period after the onset date, meaning the point at which the disability began preventing you from working. In the case of an approved claim with an onset date in the past, this may bring about the payment of back benefits in a lump sum. Two years after onset, disability beneficiaries are eligible for Medicare, no matter what their age.

Appeal

If Social Security denies the claim, the claimant has the right to appeal the decision through a Request for Reconsideration, which must be filed within 60 days of the date of the denial. If the Request is also denied, the claimant has the right to file a Request for Hearing (also within 60 days), which will allow him or her to appear at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, who will make a decision based on the records and testimony of the claimant and any witnesses. A denial at the hearing level allows one last option, a Request for Review to the Social Security Appeals Council.

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