If you are suffering from severe scoliosis which is interfering with your ability to perform normal work activities, you may be eligible for Social Security disability for scoliosis. Social Security Disability benefits are available to those who have worked and paid taxes on their income for at least five of the past ten years. Our team at the LaBovick Law Group has extensive experience in Social Security Disability and is prepared to fight for your case, from the application phase through your hearing with an administrative law judge.
National Scoliosis Awareness Month occurs in June every year. The purpose of Scoliosis Awareness Month is to highlight the need for early detection, education regarding the condition, and awareness of its prevalence within the community. National Scoliosis Awareness Month is also an opportunity for scoliosis survivors to share their experiences with living with scoliosis and the impact treatments have had on their lives.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. Although the spine has a degree of natural curvature, scoliosis causes abnormal changes in the spine resulting in an imbalance. People with scoliosis typically have a C-shaped or S-shaped spine and the vertebrae can sometimes twist or rotate. The primary onset of scoliosis is between the ages of 10 and 15, with females more likely to progress to a degree of curvature which requires treatment.
However, scoliosis can affect any gender, and the condition can have a lifelong impact on one’s functioning. Scoliosis is often treated with back bracing; these braces are often molded through custom orthotics and may need to be worn up to 22 hours a day, depending on the type of brace. Additionally, scoliosis sometimes requires surgical intervention.
Surgery for scoliosis
Typically, surgical intervention is recommended once the Cobb angle of the spine exceeds 45 degrees. Commonly, scoliosis patients with severe spinal curvature undergo fusion surgeries, using rods, screws, hooks, and/or wires to form the spine into a solid bone that no longer moves. In the past, patients underwent fusion surgery using Harrington rods.
This procedure involved a ratcheting system to insert the Harrington rod along the abnormal curvature to stretch out and straighten the spine. Patients who previously underwent Harrington rod surgery have a 25 percent loss of mobility post-surgery and may experience pain in the other parts of the spine which have to compensate for the fused area.
In addition to physical pain, there may be psychological effects associated with living with rods, such as anxiety and depression. Former Harrington rod patients may experience flatback syndrome, where the low back loses its natural curvature and becomes flat over time. This can affect a person’s stance and gait and result in significant pain.
Although scoliosis is often diagnosed in childhood, there is an additional risk of scoliosis occurring in adults as well. Adults may develop “de novo” scoliosis, which is caused by wear and tear of the spinal discs as one ages. Adults with degenerative scoliosis can experience leg and back pain which can impact the ability to stand or walk for periods of time. Further, surgical intervention as an adult can be challenging as the recovery from standard spinal fusion surgery can be quite extensive.
Social Security Disability for Scoliosis
Disability Benefits for Scoliosis
Social Security will first determine that you are no longer engaging in regular work activity. Social Security determines whether you meet this step by looking at your monthly earnings at any job where you are currently working. With the rising cost of living, many individuals with disabilities are forced to continue some type of part-time employment while waiting for their case to be approved. If this is your situation, you can maintain some part-time work and remain eligible if your earnings fall below what SSA defines as “substantial gainful activity.” In 2022, if you are earning less than $1350 per month before taxes from any employment that you have, you will be eligible for benefits.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability for Scoliosis
Next, Social Security will determine whether you have a severe impairment based on your medical records. All medical conditions must be documented for Social Security to evaluate their severity in your case. Thus, it is very important to establish regular treatment for your condition. If lack of health insurance is a challenge for you, there may be low-cost or sliding-scale health care providers in your area. For individuals with scoliosis, it will be important to have imaging of your spine, such as X-rays or MRIs.
This is necessary to document the severity of your spinal curvature. An MRI will also reveal whether your scoliosis has any impact on your spinal cord, which can cause symptoms such as weakness and numbness in other parts of the body. If living with scoliosis has impacted your mental health, seeking mental health services can help support your case as well.
Social Security will then assess your residual functional capacity. This is an assessment of your ability to engage in certain common activities in the workplace such as standing, walking, lifting, carrying, reaching, or using your hands for fine manipulation. This also can include your ability to perform mental tasks such as maintaining concentration and attendance and interacting with others. The evaluator will determine these limits based on his or her review of your medical records.
Apply for Disability Benefits with Scoliosis with LaBovick Law Group
It is very helpful if one of your medical providers can complete a medical source statement describing your limitations in this area. The attorneys at LaBovick Law Group can assist your providers with providing the type of information that Social Security needs to evaluate your case.
Once SSA determines your residual functional capacity, it will determine if you can return to your past jobs. If you are not able to do your past work, SSA will determine whether you can perform any other work. If you cannot perform any work with the limitations that you have, SSA will find you to be disabled and you will be awarded benefits.
The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits is often very overwhelming. Give the attorneys at LaBovick Law Group a call at (561) 625-8400 for a free case evaluation.