Some West Virginia residents who find themselves unable to work due to degenerative disc disease may want to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. In most cases, the Social Security Administration evaluates these applications according to its criteria for spinal disorders, including spinal stenosis and vertebral fractures in addition to degenerative disc disease. One section of the SSA’s guidelines specifically addresses degenerative disorders of the spine, laying out criteria for the severity of the illness required to receive disability benefits.
According to the agency, applicants for SSD benefits must show that one of their nerve roots has been compromised by the disorder, such as the spinal cord or cauda equina. Evidence of nerve root compression may include some types of pain distribution, loss of motor function, limited spinal motion, muscle atrophy or weakness. For people with lower back degenerative disc disorders, they should be able to show positive straight leg tests conducted by a medical doctor when they are both sitting and laying down, which means that they have pain when their legs are held in a straight position.
Some people may have a degenerative disc disorder that prevents them from working but that does not meet the criteria set out by the SSA. They may still be able to receive disability benefits if they do not have the remaining functionality to allow them to return to work. People who cannot work due to their disease may be able to receive an approval for SSD benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
Many people may find that their Social Security Disability applications are initially denied, but they may be more likely to be approved at a disability hearing, especially if they are represented by counsel. A disability attorney may help people to craft their application, present their case and seek the benefits they need.