May 18, 2010

Scoliosis and Social Security Disability Benefits


handicap sign 2.JPGAre you an Indiana resident that is unable to work because you have been diagnosed with scoliosis? 
Social Security disability claimants that have been diagnosed with spinal impairments such as scoliosis may be able to win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claim even though the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments do not include scoliosis. 

Scoliosis is a spinal deformity that is characterized by both lateral and rotational curvature of the spine.  Whether you are diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis or congenital scoliosis, both types have similar symptoms.  Such symptoms may include:

  • uneven muscle development on one side of the spine,
  • rib hump,
  • uneven shoulder blades,
  • uneven shoulders and hips, or
  • asymmetrical breast development in females.

Treatment for scoliosis varies depending on the age of the individual.  Typically, younger individuals are often treated with braces to prevent the progression of scoliosis.  However, braces are not used on adults. Some believe that surgery remains the most successful treatment method for individuals with large curvatures of the spine. Spinal fusions with instrumentation may be the most successful surgical procedure although these procedures will not completely straighten the spine, but do provide good correction.

So, how do I win my disability claim if the SSA doesn’t have medical criteria for abnormal curvature of the spine such as scoliosis?  Since the SSA does not have a listing in their “Listing of Impairments” specifying the medical criteria for disability based on curvature of the spine, a claimant must prove their disability in other ways.  The disability claimant will need to be awarded disability based on a type of approval known as a medical vocational allowance. 

What is medical vocational allowance and how does it work?  When an SSDI or SSI disability claimant’s case is evaluated, a determination will be made as to whether or not the disability claimant is capable of returning to their past work. When it is determined that the disability claimant is incapable of returning to a past job, the disability claimant will further be evaluated as to whether or not they are able to perform some form of “other work”.  “Other work” may include any type of work that a claimant’s current level of physical and/or mental level of functioning will not preclude or rule out.  

Claimants who are found to be capable of returning to one of their past jobs will be denied. On the other hand, claimants who are found to be incapable of returning to their past work and are found to be incapable of doing some form of other work may be approved on the basis of a medical vocational allowance.

It is important that the disability claimant present medical evidence that demonstrates why the claimant is disabled and unable to work in order for the claimant to win their claim by means of a medical vocational allowance.  In all cases, the disability claimant needs to have compelling medical records noting the specific functional restrictions that the claimant has due to their impairment which prevents the claimant from working.

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience in representing disability claimants with scoliosis and other disabilities related to the spine.  If you or someone you know can’t work due to curvature of the spine such as scoliosis, kyphosis, and kyphoscoliosis, contact Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation regarding your Social Security disability claim at (317) 423-8888. 

Filed under:Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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