Degenerative disc disease and the associated pain can make completing work difficult or impossible. As a result, California residents with this condition may apply for Social Security disability benefits to provide income for themselves and their families. According to the Social Security Administration, claims for disability benefits based on degenerative disc disease are assessed according to the portion of its manual dealing with various spinal disorders. This listing encompasses a range of spinal conditions, including spinal stenosis and vertebral fractures in addition to degenerative disorders.
To be approved for Social Security benefits, applicants must meet the guidelines specified in the listing. In particular, they must show that at least one nerve root, such as the spinal cord or cauda equina, has been compromised by the disease. Nerve root compression or compromise can be demonstrated through a range of medical reports, including limited spinal motion, pain distribution or loss of motor function, including muscle atrophy and weakness. In addition, applicants must also show proof of a positive straight leg test, showing that they experience pain while lying down and while sitting.
Some people with degenerative disc disease will meet these guidelines and be approved for Social Security benefits. However, others may be too disabled to work but not fit precisely within these categories. In that case, an applicant would need to show that they do not have the residual functional capacity, or remaining function, to continue in their current job or other jobs they have held in the past. In this way, they could be approved for disability benefits under a medical vocational allowance.
Many people who are in too much pain to work still face initial denials when applying for Social Security benefits. A disability lawyer may help a client navigate the application process or provide strong representation at a disability hearing.