Causing chronic pain and limiting your ability to lift, walk, and even sit, spondylolisthesis can make it almost impossible to continue working as you did in the past. If you suffer from spondylolisthesis or another spinal disorder, your treatments are not working, and you cannot earn a living, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Depending on your background and financial situation, this could include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Berger and Green can help you get the disability benefits you deserve. We know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for in a claim for Social Security Disability for spondylolisthesis. We can double-check your paperwork before you apply for benefits. If the SSA already denied your application, we can help you appeal your denial. You can reach our Pittsburgh office at 412-661-1400. Call now for a free consultation.
Spondylolisthesis as a Qualifying Impairment
The SSA publishes a book of impairments — called the Blue Book — that outlines the medical criteria you must meet to qualify for benefits based on your diagnosis. In addition to meeting the outlined criteria, you also need to provide evidence your condition has lasted a year, will last a year, or is likely permanent.
The guidelines that apply to spondylolisthesis are in Section 1.04 – Disorders of the Spine. To get benefits based on this diagnosis, you will need documentation in your medical records to prove:
- Nerve root compression;
- Arachnoiditis; or
The SSA will also check your medical records for signs of functional impairments, such as:
- Limited mobility;
- A limited range of motion; or
- An inability to sit without changing position at least once every two hours.
Finally, the SSA will look at your treatments and the outcomes. In many cases, spinal fusion surgery will help correct the impairments spondylolisthesis causes. If surgery failed or if you cannot undergo the procedure for a well-documented reason, you may be more likely to get approved for benefits.
We recommend discussing your disability application with your doctor before you begin the process. Your doctor can help you understand if you meet the guidelines for a qualifying impairment and ensure she documents your spondylolisthesis symptoms, limitations, and treatments adequately. She may also need to work with the SSA to complete an evaluation of your abilities if you do not qualify based on an impairment listing.
Getting Disability Without Meeting an Impairment Listing
You do not have to meet the guidelines laid out in the SSA’s Blue Book to get the disability benefits you need. While the impairment listings make it easier to understand if you qualify, you can also draw benefits based on your residual functional capacity (RFC).
Your RFC is a way to help the SSA disability examiner understand your abilities. This assessment measures the type of work you are capable of, how much you can work, and how often. You receive an RFC through one of the following:
- The disability examiner evaluates you based on your medical records and application;
- Your doctor completes the evaluation using a special worksheet; or
- You attend an independent examination the SSA pays for.
In general, the activities included on the RFC evaluation include a variety of common work-related tasks, as well as some tasks related to self-care and daily living. If the outcome of your RFC evaluation shows you cannot work, you will likely qualify as impaired.
Disability Technical Requirements
Many people worry so much about whether the SSA will agree they have a disability that they forget about the technical requirements of the SSDI and SSI programs. Each program has its own eligibility criteria related to your work history and income. If you do not meet these criteria, you could receive a technical denial.
SSDI is a program for workers. If you do not have enough work credits earned from your recent work history, you will not qualify. SSDI also has an income limit that you can earn while applying for SSDI, although it only considers the income you make from working at a job. To qualify, you must earn below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit each month. This limit helps the SSA determine if you are capable of earning a living or not.
SSI does not require you to have any work history. Even children with disabilities may qualify. However, you must meet strict income and asset limits to qualify for SSI. These limits apply to most types of income. The SSA only allows exceptions for a limited number of assets, such as your home and your vehicle.
Our attorneys can review your employment history and financial situation to determine if you meet the requirements for SSDI or SSI.
Appealing a Denial of Disability Benefits
It is a well-known fact that getting disability is not easy. In fact, the SSA denies most of the claims it receives. If this happens to you, there is no need to panic. Many of our clients have received the benefits they deserve through the appeals process.
If you received a denial, call us as soon as possible. We need to act quickly to request an appeals hearing. Once we have a hearing date, we can investigate why the SSA denied your claim. We will uncover the reason behind your denial and try to build a solid case to prove you deserve benefits.
When the day of your hearing arrives, we will represent you in front of the Judge, present our case, and ask her to overturn your denial. If this is successful, you will begin receiving monthly benefits and back pay.
If the Administrative Law Judge refuses to approve you for benefits, there are additional steps we can take to appeal the decision.
Talk to a Pittsburgh Disability Attorney at Berger and Green About Obtaining Benefits for Spondylolisthesis.
The disability team at Berger and Green can help you get approved for the benefits you deserve. We can look over your initial application or navigate the appeals process for you. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.