Many employees in Pennsylvania struggle with back pain to the point where it affects their quality of life and ability to work. Often, back issues are associated with physical labor. However, office workers and others who do not do physically strenuous tasks at work could also be impacted. The inability to sit or stand in one position for prolonged periods of time is a common complaint. Back problems are recognized as a category of impairments that may qualify for Social Security disability, but earning approval for benefits may prove elusive.
The Social Security Administration provides its disability examiners with a Listing of Impairments, which is used as a basis for evaluating a claimant’s medical condition. However, disability analysts report that even if a claimant has a listed condition such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis or a ruptured disc that causes some sort of compromise of the spinal column, some other condition is also required. The SSA examiners are looking for complete medical records for the preceding 12 months to verify the claimant’s history, but even providing such is not determinative of approval.
Examiners only look to the objective medical reports and never speak with the claimant personally. This is true on the initial application and also if an initial denial is followed by an appeal, called reconsideration. If reconsideration is denied, the next level of appeal is an administrative law hearing before an administrative law judge. At this level, witness testimony is allowed and the claimant is permitted to tell his or her own story of how and in what manner the reported impairments affect normal work and life functions.
Legal representation is permitted at any stage of the disability application process. Statistically, having a Social Security disability lawyer increases the claimant’s chances of achieving the best result possible at the administrative hearing.