Yes, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you underwent spinal fusion surgery and you remain disabled after the surgery. You likely consented to this type of serious spinal surgery with the hope and the expectation that you would feel better and that your quality of life would improve after surgery.
Unfortunately, spinal fusion surgery has risks and those risks can leave you disabled. Instead of feeling better after spinal fusion surgery, you may experience:
- Damage to nerves in the spinal column
- Damage to blood vessels near the fusion site
- Joint pain on either side of the fusion site
These risks can result in permanent medical conditions that leave you unable to work.
Social Security Disability Eligibility
You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you can prove that your disability is included in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (known as the Blue Book) or if you can prove that you are totally and permanently disabled and unable to work.
You may qualify if you meet the requirements of Section 1.04 of the Listing of Impairments. This section, which covers disorders of the spine, allows you to recover disability benefits if you have a spinal condition that results in the compromise of a nerve root or of the spinal cord and one of the following is also true:
- You experience nerve compression that results in pain, muscle weakness, sensory and reflex loss, and that impacts your lower back and legs.
- You suffer inflammation in the membrane around the spine that results in burning and in you having to change position often (or at least once every two hours).
- You experience a narrowing of the spinal canal that results in pain, weakness, and difficulty walking.
Finally, you may qualify if you can prove that you meet another section of the Blue Book or if you can prove that your residual functional capacity is so diminished by your condition that you cannot work. For example, if your spinal fusion surgery left you unable to walk, your condition may be equal in severity to Section 1.03 of the Blue Book which applies to the surgery or fusion of weight-bearing joints. While the spine is not a weight-bearing joint, the effect of your spinal fusion surgery may be the same as a fusion surgery on a hip, knee, or other weight-bearing joint.
Be Prepared Before You File a Social Security Disability Application
You will need medical evidence and a complete and compelling Social Security disability application in order to get the benefits you deserve. For help submitting a strong application or for a fair review of your claim, please contact a board certified Social Security disability lawyer today via this website or by phone.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.