Understanding Social Security Disability
- Definition of Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability (SSD) is a federal program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition. The medical condition must be expected to last at least one year or result in death.
- Eligibility Criteria for SSD Benefits: To be eligible for SSD benefits, an individual must have a medical condition that meets the SSA's definition of disability and have earned enough work credits through employment or self-employment.
The Role of Lumbar Fusion in SSD Claims
- What is a Lumbar Fusion: A lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae in the lower back are joined together to eliminate pain caused by a damaged or degenerated disc.
- How does Lumbar Fusion Impact SSD Eligibility: A lumbar fusion can impact SSD eligibility if it results in chronic lower back pain that prevents the individual from performing their job or any other work. In such cases, the individual may be considered disabled by the SSA and eligible for SSD benefits.
- Social Security Blue Book Listings: The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a list of impairments known as the "Blue Book" that can automatically qualify an individual for SSD benefits. The Blue Book is divided into categories based on the type of medical condition, such as musculoskeletal, respiratory, and cardiovascular disorders.
- Lumbar Fusion as a Listed Impairment: Lumbar fusion is not a listed impairment in the Blue Book. However, the SSA will consider the individual's specific medical condition and how it affects their ability to work when determining SSD eligibility. For example, if the lumbar fusion was performed to treat spinal stenosis, the individual may be considered disabled if they experience chronic lower back pain and are unable to perform their job or any other work.Likewise, if the Lumbar fusion affects an individual's ability to walk, the the Listing may be met.
Factors Affecting SSD Eligibility
- Age: The SSA considers age when determining eligibility for SSD benefits. Younger individuals who have recently stopped working and have transferable skills may have a harder time getting approved for SSD.
- Education and Work History: The SSA will consider an individual's education and work history when determining SSD eligibility. Individuals with higher levels of education and job skills may be more likely to find alternative employment and less likely to receive SSD benefits.
- Current Work Status: The SSA will consider the individual's current work status when determining SSD eligibility. Individuals who are currently working may not be eligible for SSD benefits.
Applying for SSD Benefits
- Gathering Medical Records: When applying for SSD benefits, it is important to have comprehensive medical records to support your claim. This may include records of your lumbar fusion surgery and any other relevant medical treatments.
- Completing the SSD Application Process: The SSD application process can be complex and time-consuming. It is important to provide all necessary information and documentation to ensure a timely decision on your claim.
- Receiving a Decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA): After submitting your SSD application, you will receive a decision from the SSA. This can take several months, so it is important to be patient.
What to Do If Your Claim is Denied
- Appealing a Denial: If your SSD claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process can also be complex and time-consuming, so it is recommended to seek the assistance of a disability attorney.
Hiring a Disability Attorney: A disability attorney can help you navigate the SSD appeals process and increase your chances of success. They can also represent you in a hearing before an administrative law judge.
At James Aspell, P.C., we are experienced Connecticut Social Security Disability Appeals Attorneys. We can explain the process and help guide you. Call us at 860-523-8783 for a free consultation.