SSI and SSD for Neck Pain

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SSI and SSD for Neck Pain

 Neck pain can be a signal of a debilitating condition. While pain alone won’t qualify a person for Social Security disability (SSD), someone suffering from chronic neck pain may well have one of several musculoskeletal and other conditions that may support a finding of disability. But, simply suffering from neck pain or one of these conditions isn’t sufficient. 

  • Have sufficient work credits, including sufficient recent work credits–for most applicants that means 10 years of credited work overall and five of the 10 years leading up to the disability, and
  • Meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) definition of disability, which means that you are medically unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA)

Two Ways to Qualify for SSD for Neck Pain and Problems

Meet or Equal a Blue Book Listing

The Social Security Blue Book (officially known as Disability Evaluation Under Social Security) contains a Listing of Impairments. For each listed impairment, the Blue Book sets forth specific criteria for qualifying for SSD. If your condition meets or equals a listed condition, the SSA will consider you disabled. 

For example, one listed condition is “disorders of the skeletal spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root(s).” This includes compromise of the unilateral nerve root of the cervical spine or of bilateral nerve roots of the cervical spine. 

  • Neuro-anatomic distribution of one or more of the following:
    • Pain
    • Paresthesia
    • Muscle fatigue
  • Radicular distribution of neurological signs present during physical examination or testing, evidenced by:
    • Muscle weakness, and
    • Sign of nerve root irritation, tension or compression, and
    • Sensory changes evidence by reduced sensation or sensory nerve deficit on electrodiagnostic testing, or
    • Decreased deep tendon reflexes
  • Findings on imaging consistent with compromise of the nerve root
  • The impairment-related physical limitation of musculoskeletal function that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months

The full Blue Book listing includes other details, including the type of support needed to demonstrate certain items in the listing. 

Conditions that Don’t Meet or Equal a Blue Book Listing

The process for showing that you are disabled–meaning that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to your medical condition or conditions–is more complicated when you don’t meet a listing. You’ll have to show that: 

  • You suffer from a diagnosable medical condition that is established by medical records and/or testing, and
  • Your residual functional capacity is so limited that you cannot engage in substantial gainful activity

Residual functional capacity is the most that you are able to do given the limitations caused by your medical condition or conditions. The SSA uses a variety of factors to determine your residual functional capacity, including: 

  • Your medical limitations
  • Your age
  • Your educational level
  • The type of work you have done in the past

If the SSA finds that you can do the work you have done in the past, or that you have skills that are transferable to work you can do, you generally won’t be found to be disabled. In other situations, the determination may vary depending on how close to retirement age you are. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Neck Pain

For example: 

  • SSI is need-based, taking into account income (including income not from work) and assets
  • SSI is not funded by payroll withholdings under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), and so there are no work credit requirements

SSI is available only to those who meet the criteria above and are either aged 65 or older or disabled. SSI benefits are capped at a relatively low level and reduced by income, so benefits are typically limited. However, SSI can help someone who is disabled by neck pain, problems, or another medical condition who: 

  • Does not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSD benefits, or
  • Is receiving SSD benefits at a low enough level that they also qualify for SSI

How Do You Know if You Qualify for SSD or SSI for Neck Pain? 

The common thread between SSD and SSI is that to receive either, you must be found to be disabled (unless you are applying for SSI at age 65 or older). That’s typically the most complicated aspect of establishing that you qualify for either type of benefit. 

Even though the SSA spells out the criteria for determining whether you are disabled, it can be difficult to understand how those criteria apply to your specific situation and what types of evidence and documentation you will need to prove your claim for neck pain. Working with an experienced disability benefits advocate can simplify that process and ensure that you don’t make unnecessary mistakes or leave out important documentation due to inexperience. 

At Disability Help Group, our advocates are fully dedicated to helping people like you secure the maximum disability benefits they are entitled to, whether that is SSD, SSI, or a combination of the two. We’ll put our years of experience to work to help you put together the strongest and most complete application possible. If you’ve already been denied, we can help with that too–whether that means submitting additional evidence to support reconsideration or representing you at a hearing before an administrative law judge. And, we’ll work hard to make sure the process is as stress-free as possible. 

To learn more about how we can help you pursue Social Security disability benefits for neck pain, call  (800) 800-3332 right now, or fill out our contact form.

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