Anyone applying for disability benefits from the SSA has two possible ways to prove that they qualify:
- They can meet the requirements defined for individual conditions in the SSA’s Listings of Impairments.
- They can prove that they are unable to work due to their impairment by using the SSA’s Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process.
Of the two options, meeting one of the listings is by far the preferred method because it’s much more straightforward. What are the Listings of Impairments? These are a list of medical criteria or standards that the SSA has come up with to define a particular condition. Anyone who proves they meet one of these definitions qualifies for disability benefits automatically. All you have to do is show that your condition matches the criteria and that you’ve been without a job because of it for at least 12 months (or that the medical evidence argues you’ll be unable to work for that long or longer).
Naturally, it is not quite that simple though. In order to prove to the SSA that you meet their criteria, you need very specific objective medical documentation. Exactly what do you have to show to receive benefits for Disorders of the Spine?
Standards and Medical Criteria for Listing 1.04
To meet listing 1.04 – Disorders of the Spine, there are several things that you can show to the SSA:
Nerve root compression evidence. Those suffering from this problem show motor loss, limited spinal motion, neuro-anatomic pain distribution, sensory loss, or a loss of reflexes. If the lower back is involved, these people typically have a positive straight-leg raising test.
Spinal arachnoiditis. People with this condition experience severe dysesthesia or painful burning that forces them to move around and change positions frequently (more than once every two hours).
Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication. Sufferers experience chronic nonradicular weakness and pain that prevents them from ambulating effectively.
In order to prove any of these issues, you’ll need objective medical evidence gained from testing. There are many tests the SSA uses to identify spine disorders, including:
- Plain x-ray of the cervical spine
- Plain x-ray of the lumbosacral spine
- Range of Motion (ROM) Tests
- Straight Leg Raising Test (SLR)
- Thoracic Gas Volume (TGV)
- Gaenslen’s Test (sign)
- Spurling’s Test
- Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA)
- Deep Tendon Reflexes (DTRs)
- Lung Subdivisions
- CT Scan (Computerized Tomographic) of the spine
- General EMG (electromyography)
- Schoeber Sign
- MRI of bone
- MRI of spinal cord and spine
- Piriformis Compression Test
- Bone densitometry
- Magnetic Resonance Neuropathy
- Flêch sign
- Patrick’s Test (Fabere Test)
- Functional Residual Capacity (FRC)
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
Testing positive on one or more of these tests can help provide you with the evidence you need to prove to the SSA that you meet the requirements of a disability on their list and automatically qualify you for benefits.
Failing to match something on their Listings of Impairments, though, doesn’t have to be the end. Remember that many can and do go on to receive benefits by going through the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process. If you can prove that your condition prevents you from working in any job in our country that your experience and education otherwise would qualify you for, the SSA will approve your claim.
It’s not easy though, so you want to ensure you get a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney on your side as soon as possible. Learn more about the claims process by reading our Social Security Disability eBook for free!