According to medical journal The Lancet, worldwide disability due to lower back pain has risen by 50% since 1990. Back pain is also one of the most common reasons cited when people miss work.

The source of back pain varies from person to person – it might originate from various injuries, illnesses, diseases, genetics and temporary medical conditions. Wherever it comes from, there is no denying (as anyone who has severe or chronic back pain can tell you) that this can create serious limitations on a person’s life and work.

Types of Back Pain and Treatments

Back pain affects most people at some point in their lives for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you were exercising or playing with your kids or grandkids and pulled or strained a muscle. Perhaps you are getting older and simply slept in a bad position. Pregnancy is also a significant contributor. These types of back pain are often temporary. More serious back pain will result from chronic conditions, such as nerve root or spinal cord compression, scoliosis, degenerative discs and arthritis.

If someone suffers with chronic back pain, a doctor may prescribe medications and treatments, such as muscle relaxants, narcotics, topical pain relievers, injections, physical therapy, or antidepressants in certain specific circumstances. In some cases, you might even require surgery to improve your back pain. Your healthcare provider will know which treatments might work in your specific situation.

Does Back Pain Qualify Me for Disability Benefits?

Back pain is discussed in the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” listing of disabling conditions, in Section 1 (Musculoskeletal) under paragraph 1.04 (Disorders of the spine).

Back pain can be severely painful and debilitating. But back pain – even if it is chronic and severe – will not always qualify you for benefits by itself. It depends on the circumstances of your case, what your medical records demonstrate, and how it affects your ability to function.

That said, back pain is a very common condition that is found in people who do qualify for SSDI. Because if the back pain – possibly in combination with other medical conditions – rises to the level of a severe impairment that will prevent you from sustaining work, and that it has or is expected to affect you for at least one year, or to result in death, you may very well qualify for disability benefits.

If your back pain is a direct result of another medical impairment, such as arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, you could also qualify for SSDI benefits by meeting or equaling the listing for those conditions. But remember, you don’t have to meet or equal a listed impairment in order to be found disabled. At the end of the day, the SSA is less worried about whether or not your particular condition fits a certain definition – they are primarily concerned with whether or not all of your medical conditions together combine to prevent you from sustaining work.


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Next Steps

If you or a loved one have chronic back pain and are considering a claim for disability benefits, we recommend you read our articles about the process of applying for SSDI and the way the Social Security Administration uses their Sequential Evaluation Process to determine disability.

This article is presented for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Medical decisions (including whether to start, stop, or modify any treatment plan) are extremely important and should always be made with the advice and counsel of a qualified medical professional.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800)492-3260.