Wage earners who become disabled may qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA offers disability benefits, but only if the applicant meets a strict definition of disability or suffers from a condition contained in the SSA's Listing of Impairments. Injuries or conditions of the spine, such as a bulging disc, may qualify.
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Social Security Definition of Disability
The SSA uses a strict definition of disability. The condition must last a certain amount of time --- at least 12 months --- or be expected to result in the person's death. As a result of the condition, the person must be unable to remain gainfully employed. This means the person can no longer do her original job due to her condition and that the condition is so severe that any accommodations made by the employer are ineffective. The SSA keeps a list of disorders that meet the strict definition of disability.
Certain musculoskeletal disorders qualify a person for disability benefits from the SSA. According to the SSA's Listing of Impairments, certain spinal disorders qualify a person for disability benefits. The Listing of Impairments requires a spinal condition --- such as degenerative disc disease --- to be accompanied by other severe symptoms such as spinal arachnoiditis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the nerves in the spinal cord) that requires a person to shift positions or posture more than once every two hours.
Bulging Disc and Social Security Disability
A bulging disc can be particularly painful and debilitating. However, a person suffering from this condition is limited in her ability to receive disability benefits because the bulging disc must meet the strict definition of disability. According to Spine-Health.com, bulging discs may be indicative of degenerative disc disease, characterised by pain in the disc space. Even if the person suffers from degenerative disc disease, she still must meet the other symptoms listed in the Listing of Impairments for spinal disorders or else be expected to suffer from the bulging disc for at least 12 months and, because of the bulging disc, be rendered unable to remain employed.
Need for a Specific Medical Diagnosis
When applying for disability benefits, a person must provide detailed information about her medical condition to her local Social Security office. According to Spinal-Health.com, terms such as "bulging disc," "herniated disc" or "slipped disc" are all indicative of common symptoms: back pain. Without a specific medical diagnosis indicating that the bulging disc is rendering a worker disabled, the worker may not be able to receive disability benefits from the SSA.
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