DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE
As a person ages, spinal discs break down, causing a variety of problems in the spine. Some of these problems include a loss a fluid in the discs, reducing the disc’s effectiveness as a “shock absorber,” and tears or cracks in the outer layers of the discs, causing disc bulges or ruptures.
SYMPTOMS OF DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE
Pain in the back or neck. Pain may also radiate into the arms, buttocks, and/or legs. The pain may worsen with activity.
CAUSES OF DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE
Aging, smoking, and physical stress from heavy labor are significant causes of degenerative disc disease.
HOW DOES SOCIAL SECURITY EVALUATE DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE?
Social Security may award your disability claim if you have degenerative disc disease in the spine that results in compromise of a nerve root in the spinal cord. This must be demonstrated by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, and motor loss accompanied by sensory or reflex loss. If the degeneration involves the lower back, there must also be a positive straight-leg raising test, both while sitting and lying down. A medical doctor must attest that the claimant meets all of these requirements. If you do not meet the above requirements, your doctor may be able to attest to certain limitations your condition causes you, such as limits on how much weight you can lift, how far you can walk, how long you can stand or sit, and other functional assessments. If these restrictions are supported by medical records, you may be able to qualify for Social Security under Steps 4 & 5 of the sequential evaluation process.