What is a Bulging Disc in the back?
Anyone who has had a disabling back condition such as a bulging disc (disc herniation) knows it is debilitating. Severe pain, lack of movement, the need to shift positions, all of these symptoms can make it difficult to maintain employment.
Approximately 90% of bulging discs occur in the lumbar or lower spine, most often around levels L4-L5 (lumbar segments 4 and 5) or L5-S1 (lumbar segment 5 and sacral segment1). Frequently, the bulging disc will impinge on the nerve in the lower back and cause sciatica. Sciatica can cause severe and radiating pain into the buttocks and thighs. If the bulging disc occurs in the cervical spine the pain radiates through the arms, neck and fingers.
So what is a bulging disc?
It is caused when a vertebrae moves outside its “normal perimeter.” The disc then presses on a nerve in the spinal column. It is not unusual for some individuals to have a bulging disc but only become aware of their condition when it starts to press on a nerve.
Treatment for a Bulging Disc or disc herniation
If you have a bulging disc or a disc herniation it may be possible to reduce the symptoms by avoiding certain activities and taking adequate precautions such as maintaining a healthy weight, not lifting heavy objects and strengthening the muscles in your back.
Although the condition may clear on its own with proper treatment such as medication, heat or physical therapy, some claimants may have to have surgery to alleviate the condition. Thankfully, there are a variety of new treatment options which are minimally invasive and can help alleviate the symptoms.
Can I get SSDI or SSI for a bulging disc or disc herniation?
The easiest way to be approved immediately for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is to meet a listing on the Social Security Listing of Impairments, also known as the “Blue Book” it is a list of conditions and symptoms that the SSA automatically considers severe enough to not allow claimants to perform substantial gainful activity.
Bulging disc will be evaluated under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, Section 1.04 Disorders of the spine. Under this section is included the following conditions: herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture, resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord.
Specifically the SSA will evaluate if you experience “evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic (or nervous system) distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine).”
Proving to the SSA that I have a Bulging Disc
To win SSDI or SSI benefits you will have to prove that your condition will last at least 12 continuous months, does not allow you to work, and has not responded to treatment options. You will also have to have enough work credits and be considered insured if you are applying for SSDI. If you are applying for SSI you must have VERY limited income and resources.If you have more questions about your condition, or have already been denied disability for your bulging disc, contact a disability lawyer for help.
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