Social Security Disability Claims based on Neck or Back Pain


Back pain and neck pain are probably two of the most common medical impairments that are found in Social Security Disability cases; however your best way of winning a Social Security Disability case if you have back and or neck pain is to show that you have other physical or mental impairments that accompany that problem and contribute to an overall state of disability.  This is because under listing 1.04 of the musculoskeletal section of the Code of Federal Regulations, which covers spinal disorders, the standard for showing total and permanent disability based on back/cervical pain or thoracic pain is very high.

Generally speaking the medical criteria requires that you either had multiple failed back surgeries, positive straight leg raising tests, that you require an assistive device or that your back pain and back impairment is so extensive and in so many different parts of your spine and is so severe that a surgery or any other further treatment is not even an option.  It is unusual to have a Social Security Disability case get up to hearing level and then meet or equal the back spinal disorder listing.  It is not to say it has not happened to me but more often how we win the back and neck pain cases is we present the orthopedic notes, we present the physical therapy notes, the chiropractic notes and the most recent MRI’s and x-rays on record.  Then we couple that with any other impairments that the claimant may have so for example if you don’t meet the back listing and Social Security is looking at whether or not there are any other jobs in the national economy that you can perform.  If you are under the age of fifty and they determine that even though you have severe back pain you would still be able to do a sit-down job that involves alternating sitting and standing every twenty to thirty minutes then you won’t get your disability so what we do in a case like that is we look for additional impairments in the medical record.

For example, disabling anxiety and depression that would preclude a lot of office jobs or maybe bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome that again would preclude a lot of office jobs and factory/assembly jobs in the sedentary work place.  If you do have back pain, I will give our treating provider a medical residual functional capacity questionnaire.  It is going to ask how much can you sit, stand and lift but then I am also going to pursue other aspects to your case to show that even if you could do an easy sit-down job that there are other impairments that would preclude work.

This short informational blog post was provided by Anne Howard, an experienced Connecticut Social Security Disability Lawyer.