We have this expectation that surgery is supposed to result in a healthier, less painful daily existence. After all, why would we go under the scalpel if we expected it would only end up hurting us more? Yet that’s exactly what happens to many of the patients that undergo back surgery. They expect their pain to lessen and yet it stays the same or, in some cases, even gets worse.
The Social Security Administration does not list back surgery as one of the impairments that would immediately qualify you for benefits. However, the pain caused from the surgery, not to mention the problem that demanded the surgery in the first place, could prevent you from continuing to work and therefore they could result in you receiving benefits.
How Could Back Surgery Qualify for SSD Benefits?
The system isn’t perfect and back surgery presents us one of the clearest examples of this. Many people require a year or more in order to recover from their back surgery. Yet the SSA believes that recovery only takes around four months. This disparity between reality and what the SSA believes is a bigger problem when you consider how the SSA determines if somebody is eligible for benefits.
SSD benefits require the disability to have either lasted a year or to have been projected to last at least a year. So many people suffer from more than a year of pain after their back surgery but the SSA doesn’t consider back surgery as taking nearly enough time to qualify.
What this means is that the pain from a back surgery is not enough to qualify for SSD benefits on its own.
However, if the back surgery resulted in new problems, or if the problem wasn’t fixed by the surgery, then you could be able to qualify for benefits. It will depend on how long the condition is projected to last, as well as how severe it is. For example, if you underwent back surgery to correct a major issue but it failed then the issue is still a clear problem and likely would be enough to qualify you.
Is It Possible to Get Benefits Even When Your Back Surgery Didn’t Cause New Issues?
There is one other factor that may allow you to seek benefits following your back surgery. Imagine that the surgery was successful in that it addressed the pain that you were suffering from. But following the surgery you have a greatly reduced range of functioning. Bending over or standing for any length of time is just impossible for you now.
When you are unable to work due to an inability to perform certain physical actions then we refer to this as functional limitations. Your functional limitations are tested in an RFC or a residual functional capacity test. This determines what level of work you can perform.
These limitations may actually be enough to qualify for SSD benefits. However, the severity of the limitation will be the key factor here.
How Do I Seek SSD Benefits Following Back Surgery?
While you can seek benefits on your own, it is recommended that you work with an experienced attorney. Especially when dealing with something like this where the system seems designed to work against you. An attorney will help you to gather evidence of your condition, file for benefits, and the appeal process.