Back pain can make California patients’ lives miserable and make it painful or impossible to return to work. As a result, many sufferers may apply for Social Security Disability benefits based on their back pain. However, both applicants and former disability examiners have noted that people whose applications are based on back and spine conditions often face problems being approved for disability benefits. The disability impairment listings used by the Social Security Administration include back and spine problems, but the criteria listed can often be difficult to meet.

In many cases, back pain can be caused by conditions that are difficult to quantify through objective testing. In general, the harder it is to objectively measure the harms suffered by an applicant, the more difficult it can be to receive a positive determination for a Social Security Disability benefits application. In many of these cases, the amount of pain suffered varies greatly from person to person.

The conditions that are listed officially for evaluation under Social Security include major dysfunction of a joint, reconstructive surgery for major weight-bearing joints, spine disorders, amputations, broken bones and soft tissue injuries. In order to be approved for benefits, it is often not enough to show pain; the loss of the ability to function is critical. Disability examiners follow a set of guidelines that measure loss of mobility, effective ambulation and medical imaging results to make a decision about an application.

When people with back pain apply for SSD benefits, they are seeking a lifeline to allow them to support themselves without further aggravating their condition. Because people with back pain may face scrutiny when applying, it may be important to work with a disability attorney through the initial phases as well as appeals and hearings in order to present their case most effectively.