Tag Archives: nerve pain

Can I receive SSI for my spinal stenosis and back pain?

Spinal Stenosis and SSDI benefits
Spinal stenosis is the term for the narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. If the narrowing progresses to the point that the nerves passing through these areas are compressed, this compression can cause severe pain. Spinal stenosis usually occurs as a person ages and the spinal disks become drier and start to bulge. Spinal stenosis may also be caused by arthritis of the spine, bone diseases, congenital birth defects, herniated or slipped disks, severe injuries or even tumors on the spine.

Typically, stenosis symptoms get worse over time and, while they often start by affecting only one side of the body or the other, they can grow to encompass both sides. These symptoms include: numbness, cramping, pain in the back, buttocks, thighs, calves, neck, shoulders, or arms, weakness of part of a leg or arm. Symptoms are more likely to be present or get worse when you stand or walk. They will often lessen or even totally disappear when you sit down. It for this reason that most people with spinal stenosis cannot walk for a long period of time.

Spinal stenosis can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and pain medications, some of which specifically target nerve pain. Physical therapy and cortisone injections can also be prescribed. In some cases, surgery might be recommended to remove the bony tissue that is compressing the nerves.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) discusses Disorders of the Spine, including spinal stenosis, under Section 1.04 of the Blue Book. In order to meet or medically equal listing 1.04 with respect to obtaining Social Security Disability benefits, your medical records might show the following:

• You must be diagnosed with spinal stenosis.
• Your records must show that your condition has caused nerve root compression and that this compression has resulted in pain, limited range of motion of the spine, and muscle weakness. The SSA will require a straight-leg raising test to prove this.
• You must also demonstrate evidence of pseudoclaudication (leg pain that becomes worse with walking) that is severe enough that it results in an inability to effectively walk, and should include the results of all imaging studies (meaning, an MRI or CT scan).

It’s important that your medical records also document the precise treatments you have received and your reaction to those treatments. It’s critical that your doctor make sure to list all limitations spinal stenosis has caused in your everyday life, further demonstrating the need for disability benefits.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Receiving SSI or SSDI for Chronic Pain.

I Have Chronic Pain, Can I get Disability?

If you suffer from chronic pain you understand just how variable the condition can be. For some the pain is continuous, for others it is intermittent, some suffer terribly while others live with less severe pain. Chronic pain is broadly defined as pain that cannot be eliminated by standard medical treatment, pain that persists after an injury or illness has resolved, or pain for which no origin can be determined.

Though the suffering is real, many with the disorder have trouble convincing the Social Security Administration that their pain prevents them from working. The difficulty of quantifying pain presents unique difficulties for those with chronic pain seeking to receive disability benefits. Given this, it is important to note that simply telling the SSA that you have disabling chronic pain is not enough, it must be clearly demonstrated through testimony and medical evidence.

It may surprise some to know that chronic pain is not a listed disorder in Social Security’s listing of impairments that may automatically qualify you for disability benefits. This does not mean that hope is lost, as there are many other diagnoses that are often related to chronic pain, including:

• inflammatory arthritis;
• somatoform disorders;
• back injury;
• chronic renal disease; and
• inflammatory bowel disease.

If you do not qualify under another a listing category, then you will have to qualify for disability benefits through a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment mean that the process for deciding whether disability benefits will be awarded boils down to two important questions:

1) Do you have objective evidence that demonstrates a medically determinable impairment that could reasonably be the source of your pain?

AND


2) If you are able to demonstrate such an impairment, how intense and persistent is the pain and how does it limit your ability to perform basic work activities?

For an impairment to be “medically determinable” it must be an anatomical, physiological or psychological abnormality that can be shown through clear evidence from reliable medical sources. Such sources include testimony from doctors, medical records and lab results. Without these tangible sources, your testimony alone will not be enough to prove your disability before the SSA.

When determining the level of pain, the SSA evaluates both the intensity of the pain and how the pain affects the individual’s ability to do basic work activities. An individual’s statements are important here as the SSA knows that some pain is more severe than can be demonstrated through medical evidence alone. Testimony describing the pain and how it impacts your daily life is considered with the rest of the relevant evidence in the case record when making a decision.

The SSA also considers the following factors when assessing your pain:
• The location, duration, frequency and intensity of the individual’s pain;
• The type, dosage, effectiveness and side effects of any medication the individual takes or has taken to alleviate pain;
• Treatment, other than medication, the individual receives or has received for relief of pain;
• Any measures, other than treatment, the individual uses or has used to relieve pain.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Nationwide Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Can I get SSI benefits for Pain?

I Have Chronic Pain, Can I get Disability?

pain managmentIf you suffer from chronic pain you understand just how variable the condition can be. For some the pain is continuous, for others it is intermittent, some suffer terribly while others live with less severe pain. Chronic pain is broadly defined as pain that cannot be eliminated by standard medical treatment, pain that persists after an injury or illness has resolved, or pain for which no origin can be determined. Though the suffering is real, many with the disorder have trouble convincing the Social Security Administration that their pain prevents them from working. The difficulty of quantifying pain presents unique difficulties for those with chronic pain seeking to receive disability benefits. Given this, it is important to note that simply telling the SSA that you have disabling chronic pain is not enough, it must be clearly demonstrated through testimony and medical evidence.

It may surprise some to know that chronic pain is not a listed disorder in Social Security’s listing of impairments that may automatically qualify you for disability benefits. This does not mean that hope is lost, as there are many other diagnoses that are often related to chronic pain, including:

• inflammatory arthritis;
• somatoform disorders;
• back injury;
• chronic renal disease; and
• inflammatory bowel disease.

If you do not qualify under another a listing category, then you will have to qualify for disability benefits through a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment mean that the process for deciding whether disability benefits will be awarded boils down to two important questions:
1) Do you have objective evidence that demonstrates a medically determinable impairment that could reasonably be the source of your pain?

AND


2) If you are able to demonstrate such an impairment, how intense and persistent is the pain and how does it limit your ability to perform basic work activities?

For an impairment to be “medically determinable” it must be an anatomical, physiological or psychological abnormality that can be shown through clear evidence from reliable medical sources. Such sources include testimony from doctors, medical records and lab results. Without these tangible sources, your testimony alone will not be enough to prove your disability before the SSA.

When determining the level of pain, the SSA evaluates both the intensity of the pain and how the pain affects the individual’s ability to do basic work activities. An individual’s statements are important here as the SSA knows that some pain is more severe than can be demonstrated through medical evidence alone. Testimony describing the pain and how it impacts your daily life is considered with the rest of the relevant evidence in the case record when making a decision.

The SSA also considers the following factors when assessing your pain:
• The location, duration, frequency and intensity of the individual’s pain;
• The type, dosage, effectiveness and side effects of any medication the individual takes or has taken to alleviate pain;
• Treatment, other than medication, the individual receives or has received for relief of pain;
• Any measures, other than treatment, the individual uses or has used to relieve pain.

If you are 45 years of age or older you may be found disabled under the SSA’s grid rules. For a FAQ of the rules check out www.disabilitygridrules.com

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Nationwide Disability Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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I am legally blind, can I receive disability benefits?

Requirement for receiving disability for Legal Blindness

 
According to an April 2011 report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than one million people in the United States over the age of 40 are legally blind. Most of you have heard the term “legally blind” but you likely don’t know what qualifies a person for disability benefits due to severe vision problems. Legal blindness is defined in two sections of the Social Security Act: § 216(i)(B) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(B)) and § 1614(a)(2) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(2)). Both sections of the Act define “blindness” as:  central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes of this paragraph as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less.

To qualify for Social Security disability under the umbrella of blindness due to a lack of visual acuity, you will need to start by obtaining a basic eye examination that provides measurements of your best-corrected visual acuity. Simply having myopia does not qualify you for disability, if it did, over 32 million Americans older than 40 would be receiving benefits.

Nor is simple visual impairment, defined as being capable of at best 20/40 vision even with corrective lenses, enough to qualify for benefits. To be declared legally blind by the SSA, you need to prove that even with the best possible corrective lenses, your best eye can only achieve 20/200 visual acuity. In other words, even the good eye can only see an object sitting 20 feet away as clearly as someone with perfect 20/20 vision can see that same object if it were 200 feet away.

Another somewhat surprising way to qualify for disability due to blindness is through a severely diminished visual field, basically no peripheral vision. A person with a healthy visual field can typically see at least 60 degrees in all direction without moving his or her eyes. Those who qualify for legal blindness due to loss of visual field cannot see more than 20 degrees in any direction. In other words, the person afflicted has almost completely lost his peripheral vision, something that is usually a symptom of other problem such as glaucoma. Again, the best place to start is with a standard eye examination which will reveal the extent of your visual field.

Unlike most other reasons for receiving Social Security disability, documentation of the cause of the statutory blindness is not required, as long as it is something detectable with a basic eye examination. For blindness caused by abnormalities not readily observed from a standard eye examination, such as traumatic brain injury to the visual cortex, documentation of the source of the injury must be provided. Also unlike many other bases of disability, you do not need to prove that this blindness has been present for any particular length of time, the fact that you are afflicted now is all that matters.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for consultation today.

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Can I work and get SSI disability at the same time?

Collecting Disability While On The Job

ticket_to_workMany people mistakenly believe that if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits you have to be totally unable to work. That is not the case and it is possible to be gainfully employed and still receive some SSI disability benefits. The Social Security Administration applies a very precise formula to determine how additional income affects SSI disability benefits.

The first thing that the SSA does in calculating how work will reduce your SSI disability benefits is to disregard the first $65 of income that you receive in a given month. That threshold of income is bumped up to $85 if you do not have any other income. Next, your disability benefits are reduced $1 for every $2 of income you receive in a given month.

For example, in 2012, if you receive $250.00 a month in income and that is your only income, the Administration will calculate your benefits as follows.

• $250.00 – $85.00 = $165.00. This means that only $165.00 of your monthly income will figure into the calculation for reducing your benefits.
• $165.00 ÷ 2 = $82.50. This means that $82.50 will be reduced from your monthly benefits from the SSA.
• If you receive the maximum amount of $698.00 (subject to COLA increases each year) per month, your new benefit amount for the month will be $698.00 – $82.50, for a total of $615.50 per month.

If you require the use of additional items to help you work, the costs of those items can be deducted from your monthly income if: (1) you have paid for the items yourself; (2) you will not be reimbursed by your employer for those expenses; (3) you can provide the Administration with proof of payment; and (4) the Administration approves your expense. The Administration calls these items “impairment-related work expenses” and they are deducted before the Administration reduces the benefit amount by $1 for every $2 in earned income.

Blind disability benefit recipients can also receive special deductions for any of their work related expenses. The SSA calls these expenses blind work expenses. These are deducted after the monthly benefits are reduced.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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