Applying for Degenerative Disc Disease Disability Benefits
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) disability benefits can be difficult to secure due to the confusing nature of DDD symptoms. If you have questions about filing a disability claim, contact the CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC today.
Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is the most common cause of lower back pain. It occurs when the intervertebral discs of the spine begin to wear down or erode. These discs are like rubber that acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. They allow you to move and bend with ease and flexibility. They can be likened to shock absorbers. But, like rubber, they tend to crack and deteriorate with age. It can result in a variety of medical conditions such as degenerative arthritis.
When applying for degenerative disc disease disability, you need to show the following symptoms:
- Struggles with balance
- The reflex loss in the arms and legs
- Muscle weakness
- Limited ROM (range of motion)
- General pain
- Various types of neurological damage
- The loss of sensation
Diagnosing Degenerative Disc Disease
Multiple forms of evidence must be available to ensure you will receive degenerative disc disease disability benefits. A clinical diagnosis for this condition would include the following:
- Physical examination targeting the symptoms of a pinched nerve or disc discomfort such as for nerve pain, muscle strength or pain that occurs through range of motion exercises.
- Review of each of the patient's symptoms that would determine the location of the pain and its severity, and which behaviors would further instigate or alleviate the soreness.
- Review of all medical records which could identify alternative causes of the medical condition. This should be comprehensive and include a patient's total previous medical history. This would allow reviewers to examine the information for such things as previous diagnoses that may or may not be related to the degenerative disc disease, family history and more.
- Listing of all diagnostic tests performed whether they support or disprove the current diagnosis of DDD. These are highly technical. They are often either CT (computerized topography) scans or MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) that provide an image of the spine in cross-sections and give the physician a comprehensive assessment of the patient's spinal anatomy
How Will the Insurance Company Evaluate a Degenerative Disc Disease Disability Claim?
The aging process is one cause of degenerating discs which makes the potential for securing a degenerative disc disease disability award more difficult. In addition, the pain that accompanies degenerative disc disease is often intermittent according to the patients themselves so insurance companies are challenged to ensure they provide the necessary benefits according to need.
Finally, there is no determinant test that can speak to the level of discomfort a person is experiencing and how it impacts their ability to function on the job or at home. In other words, only the person in pain can explain with accuracy how degenerative disc disease is affecting them. Because a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease is so obscure insurance companies may even choose to set aside or deny the request for degenerative disc disease disability benefits.
They may only grant assistance in those instances when chronic and debilitating pain is evident such as the inability to stand and/or sit for long periods of time or in cases where the disability can be seen with an MRI or (to a lesser extent) CT scan.
Evidence Required by Most Insurers
Back pain is a common complaint. Causes may be from degenerative disc disease but may also stem from lumbar issues, spinal stenosis or more. As a result, insurers are careful to comb through the applicant's medical records in search of the following items that will support the presence of DDD and the claim for degenerative disc disease disability benefits.
- Medical records in which the doctor has diagnosed DDD
- Clear and indisputable evidence of DDD from technological sources including MRIs, CT scans and X-rays
- Clinical evidence of nerve root compression that can be found through such tests as straight leg raise, arachnoiditis and more.
- Doctor's notes regarding the patient's ability to perform regular movements. This would be walking, sitting, standing, kneeling, turning, bending, stooping, lifting, reaching over your head, and carrying anything weighty.
Finally, the insurance adjuster will review the physician's medical notes, the trajectory of treatment and the doctor's specialty as part of determining the legitimacy of the claim. Regular medical oversight by an M.D. and/or D.O. will be most compelling.
Speak to a Long Term Disability Lawyer Today
CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC is a proven, reliable source of assistance for help with long term disability claims. To learn more about degenerative disc disease disability benefits, contact us today.