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How is a spine injury evaluated for SSDI benefits?

A Michigan resident likely does not think about his or spine on a regular basis. Someone who has suffered a spine injury, in contrast, may be able to think of nothing else, as he or she may be in tremendous pain and unable to work. A person who has suffered a spine injury and is unable to work may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The SSA considers a spine injury to be a musculoskeletal injury. Spine injuries that qualify a person for benefits may be acquired, hereditary or congenital. An infection, a degenerative process or a traumatic event may contribute to the development of a person's back injury that subsequently leads him or her to qualify for SSDI benefits.

Before awarding benefits, the SSA considers whether a person's condition has compromised his or her nerve root or spinal cord, and will try to determine whether a person has suffered a loss of function due to a spine injury. One critical factor in determining whether a person is suffering a loss of function from his or her spine injury is whether he or she can ambulate effectively, meaning whether he or she has extreme limitations on his or her ability to walk such that he or she has difficulty completing tasks. The SSA considers effective walking to occur when a person can maintain a reasonable walking pace over a distance it considers sufficient such that a person can complete daily living tasks.

Some common spinal cord injuries that may qualify a person to receive benefits include osteoarthritis, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, vertebral fracture or herniated nucleus pulposus. A person who is suffering from a spine injury is likely experiencing mounting medical expenses and the possibility of long-term care needs. An experienced attorney may be able to help facilitate the acquisition of SSDI benefits to ultimately help ease a person's financial burden.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Musculoskeletal System - Adult," accessed Jan. 29, 2016

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