When your nerve roots or spinal cord become damaged due to disease, you can lose some – or all – of your ability to move. In some cases, you may just feel numbness in certain areas of your body. More severe cases, though, can cause people to experience paralysis in their arms, legs, or even from the neck down.
Obviously, people who can’t move tend to have trouble finding work, so the Social Security Administration has chosen to recognize this as a potentially disabling condition. All you need to do to get Social Security disability benefits is qualify.
That means either matching a listing in the Listings of Impairments or proving that your issue is the equivalent of a condition included in the Listings.
The Listing of Impairments is essentially the SSA’s disability encyclopedia. In this extensive guide, you’ll find each and every disabling condition that the SSA recognizes clearly defined, along with criteria that you have to match if you hope to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you can match the requirements in the listing, you will be eligible for benefits.
Sadly, the second qualification method is not quite so straight forward. To prove equivalency, you need to find a way to convince the SSA that your impairment is just as bad as a condition that they have already included in the Listings. This is a much more complicated task, one that will require a skilled disability lawyer who understands how the SSA works and has successfully handled this type of case in the past.
Before you choose that route, you should always first see if you can match the listing.
11.08 Benefit Criteria
The only criteria offered by the SSA for this condition says that you
- Have to have nerve root or spinal cord lesions, and
- Have motor functions that are “disorganized” as defined in 11.04B
To help you prove your case, the SSA recommends using any of the following medical tests:
- Anorectal monometry
- Cerebrospinal fluid
- Deep tendon reflexes
- Dejerine’s sign
- Magnetic resonance imaging of spinal cord and spine
- Magnetic resonance neuropathy
- Motor evoke potentials
- Somatosensory evoked potentials
- Straight leg raising test
If you get positive results on any of these tests, it will go a long way towards helping you prove your case and win your claim.
When Equivalency Is the Only Option You Have
Remember that it’s not the end just because you can’t match a listing. Equivalency is still very much an option, and even though your path will be more difficult, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have hope.
In fact, skilled disability lawyers have helped many people just like you to use equivalency to get the benefits that they need. Your job, if you have to go this route, will be to use the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process to produce evidence that shows you have been unable to work for at least 12 months due to your medical condition. If you and your attorney are able to do this effectively, you will qualify for the benefits that you need.
Learn even more about the claims process by reading our Social Security Disability eBook for free and be sure to check back weekly for more information on how you can get the Social Security disability benefits that you deserve.