Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy

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Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy refers to symptoms of back pain from different causes. (3rd lumbar vertebrae fracture image by Dr Cano from Fotolia.com)

Radiculopathy is not an actual condition, but rather refers to various symptoms that occur near the spine where the nerve root is. Therefore, as a diagnosis, radiculopathy might not be sufficient to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

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Definition of Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as a 12-month inability to engage in any "substantial gainful activity" due to any "medically determinable physical or mental impairment."

Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy
A disability must have lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months. (Walk image by irum from Fotolia.com)

Symptoms

Symptoms of radiculopathy may include pain, difficulty controlling muscles and tingling, numbness and weakness in the extremities.

Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy
With radiculopathy, pain doesn't not always occur in the same place, (anatomy_red image by Sergey Tokarev from Fotolia.com)

Causes

Radiculopathy can be caused by a disk herniation, bone spur (osteophytes), osteoarthritis, diabetes (causing insufficient blood flow to the nerves), scoliosis or thickening of the surrounding ligaments. Less common causes are tumours and infection.

Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy can result from genetics, an accident or disease. (thorax image by Goran Bogicevic from Fotolia.com)

Medical Listing

The SSA has a listing of medical impairments for disorders of the spine. If your condition matches the symptoms characterised on the list, the SSA will determine you disabled.

Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy
Check the SSA's listing of spinal impairments to see if you qualify for disability. (human body image by Alhazm Salemi from Fotolia.com)

Criteria

The SSA requires the claimant have an extreme limitation on the ability to walk without assistance; or, to walk with assistance, if the assistance limits both upper and lower extremities, such as requiring the use of a walker, two crutches or two canes.

Social Security Disability & Radiculopathy
Even if you rely on a cane to walk, the SSA might not consider you disabled. (Crutches image by Megan van Dyck from Fotolia.com)

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