Back pain or injury is one of the most common ailments suffered by adults in the United States. Whether it arises from too much time spent sitting at a desk, an accident or injury, or unknown causes, back pain is widespread yet difficult to treat. For some people, relief comes through surgery such as a spinal fusion, which fuses vertebrae together in an effort to bring relief to those dealing with deformities, spinal weakness, or chronic back pain. However, spinal fusion surgery requires extensive down time and recovery, and it may subject patients to a range of potential risks. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security attorneys work with Massachusetts residents who have had unsuccessful or complicated spinal surgeries that leave them unable to work.Spinal Fusion Surgery and SSDI
The goal of spinal fusion surgery is to bring relief from suffering to a patient. However, since the procedure is complex and deals with sensitive areas of the body, it also creates a great deal of risk that a patient may suffer from unintended consequences or side effects. Possible risks from spinal fusion surgery include spinal cord damage, infection, and worsened back pain. When these risks and complications are severe, an individual may be eligible for disability benefits after a spinal fusion surgery.
While there is no explicit Blue Book listing for complications from spinal fusion surgery, many individuals will find that their symptoms fall within the listing for spinal disorders. Conditions that automatically qualify for SSDI include those where an individual suffers from a spine disorder, such as a vertebrae fracture or spinal stenosis, and the disorder has resulted in a compromised nerve root or spinal cord. Additionally, potential SSDI applicants must also show that they are experiencing compression of the spinal nerve root, inflammation of the spine or surrounding areas that causes pain, or narrowing of the spinal canal resulting in severe pain.Alternative Options for Pursuing Benefits
Since back pain is such a complicated and widespread problem, many SSDI applicants may find that, although they are suffering from the complications of a spinal fusion surgery, their precise symptoms do not exactly match an SSA listing. In this circumstance, there is an alternative path to disability through the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, which can evaluate the impact that surgery complications have had on an individual’s ability to function and perform basic daily activities. If you can show through comprehensive medical documentation and support that your surgery complications are preventing you from performing work-related functions or keeping a job, and that they have greatly hindered your physical abilities, you may be eligible for SSDI even if you do not meet the precise spinal disorder listing. When applying under an RFC assessment, it is important to understand that the more objective documentation you can provide of your injury, the better. This includes x-rays, MRIs, doctor’s notes, and documentation of any pain medications you have been taking. The goal is to prove that you are not only unable to work in your most recent job but in any job in the national economy.Discuss Your Government Benefits Claim with a Massachusetts Attorney
While we all go into surgery hoping for the best possible outcome, it is important to recognize that this is not always the case. While many people may receive substantial improvement or even total relief after a spinal fusion surgery, others will find that their condition has only worsened or that complications arise. In these circumstances, government benefits can be the support that is needed to help an individual adapt to his or her newly restricted lifestyle, or to take the time and therapy necessary to lead to an eventual recovery. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our government benefits lawyers can guide claimants in Massachusetts through the SSDI eligibility process. Contact our office for more information at (800) 367-0871 or online. Based in Boston, we serve individuals throughout Plymouth, Norfolk, Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex Counties, as well as the Merrimack River area.