Arachnoiditis, a debilitating and painful spinal condition, occurs when the arachnoid (the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord) becomes inflamed. Various injuries and conditions can cause arachnoid inflammation, including:
- Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections
- Traumatic injury to the back or spine
- Back surgery
- Epidural injections
- Spinal nerve compression
Because arachnoiditis often interferes with spinal nerves and does not always respond well to treatment, patients may suffer from chronic pain or numbness; be unable to sit; and experience bladder and bowel dysfunction. All of these can make it impossible for a person to hold a job. If you have been diagnosed with arachnoiditis and can no longer work, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability for arachnoiditis in Pittsburgh.
Contact Berger and Green to speak with a Social Security disability lawyer in Pittsburgh about the benefits that are available and how to apply. Call for a free consultation: 412-661-1400.
Does arachnoiditis qualify me for Social Security disability benefits?
It might. Arachnoiditis is one of the back conditions that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes as potentially disabling. If your condition meets the severity requirements under Listing 1.04 of the SSA’s Blue Book, then the SSA will consider you disabled.
To qualify, your records must indicate that your arachnoiditis causes the following:
- Severe burning or painful dysesthesia; and
- The need to change position or posture more than once every two hours.
Can I still obtain benefits if my condition does not fit the listing criteria?
Meeting the listing requirements is not the only way to prove your disability to the SSA. The SSA might deem you disabled if you can prove that your arachnoiditis and/or other conditions significantly impair your ability to work. For example, your arachnoiditis may not, by itself, be sufficient to meet the SSA’s criteria, but if you also have arthritis or degenerative disc disease, your impairments may be such that you cannot work, and therefore qualify for disability.
When the SSA receives an application from a claimant that has a non-listing-level condition, the claims examiner will review the individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC) to see if there are any jobs the person can still do, despite his/her limitations. During this evaluation process, the examiner will review the claimant’s medical records and assess his/her basic skills, such as the ability to lift heavy objects or stand or sit for long periods of time.
If the SSA finds that the claimant’s impairments prevent him/her from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), then it will grant benefits based on a medical vocational allowance.
What other criteria must I meet to obtain disability benefits?
The SSA has straightforward, but strict requirements that you must meet in order to win disability benefits for your arachnoiditis:
- You must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled. This means either meeting a listing or proving that you have an impairment that prevents you from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
- Your condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or more or result in death.
- You must meet financial or work history requirements, depending on which disability benefit you are applying for. If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have earned a certain number of work credits by working and paying Social Security taxes. If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a benefit for children and adults with insufficient work histories, your income and assets must fall below a certain threshold.
How do I prove my disability to the SSA?
The SSA carefully scrutinizes each claim it receives. It only awards benefits to those that are legitimately and totally disabled. You will need to submit accurate and thorough medical records to prove your arachnoiditis and the severity of your limitations/symptoms to the SSA.
When the claims examiner reviews your medical files, s/he will want to see the following to confirm your diagnosis:
- A pathology report of a biopsy or medically acceptable imaging test, e.g., MRI, CT scan, myelography; or
- A note from your surgeon about observations during surgery.
The evidence should show a swelling of the nerve roots and your doctor’s notes on how the condition is affecting you. The more detailed your medical file, the better. It should include:
- Physical exams
- Treatments you have undergone and your response to them
- Your pain levels
- Reflex tests
- Notes on your range of motion, ability to sit and walk, and your prognosis
Your doctor should also list all of the things you cannot do because of your condition, such as not lifting heavy objects and not sitting for longer than two hours.
What if the SSA denies my claim for disability based on arachnoiditis?
The SSA denies the majority of the initial claims it receives. In some instances, claimants simply do not meet the criteria for benefits; in other cases, administrative or technical errors or insufficient medical evidence result in a denial.
If the SSA has denied your claim for benefits, we can help appeal your case. We will work to gather the evidence necessary to support your claim and request that the SSA reconsider its decision. There are several levels of appeals our disability appeals lawyers can use if necessary, so do not give up on your benefits. They can be a true godsend when you are hurting and unable to earn a living.
Can I afford to hire a disability lawyer at Berger and Green?
At Berger and Green, we only get paid when you win your benefits. There are no out-of-pocket expenses on your part, so there is zero risk in using our services. And because claims facilitated by disability lawyers typically have far more favorable results than those filed by the claimants alone, it makes sense to have a legal professional help you get the benefits you need.
Call a disability lawyer in Pittsburgh today at 412-661-1400 to get started improving your chances of recovering benefits.