disability for scoliosis Posted in: Understanding Scoliosis

The following information was provided by Deanna Power, Community Outreach Manager for Social Security Disability Help, a resource whose aim is to assist people at all stages of the Social Security Disability application process, from initially applying, to keeping benefits after being approved. It is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration.

If you’d like to ask SSDH for help with your claim, you are welcome to contact Deanna Power at drp@ssd-help.org.

If you have scoliosis and your medical problems are so severe that you are unable to work, you could be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Receiving disability for scoliosis is definitely possible.

Scoliosis can vary significantly in severity, and, if your case is severe enough, it can result in serious physical limitations. These can be anything from reduced breathing functionality and decreased lung capacity to difficulty standing or sitting for long periods of time. The spine’s curvature can also result in additional pressure placement on your nerves, resulting in slow neurological functioning.

Medical Qualifications

All disability benefits are approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA uses a medical guide, called the Blue Book, to determine eligibility based on different medical conditions. While there is not a specific listing for disability for scoliosis, the condition would fall under disorders of the spine.

Using this listing, you need to meet one of the following to qualify for benefits:

  • Evidence of nerve root compression
    • This is proven by limited motion of the spine, motor loss accompanied by sensory reflex loss, and a neuroanatomic pain distribution
  • Inflammation of the spinal cord nerves caused by lumbar spinal stenosis
    • This is manifested by weakness and pain that radiates and causes an inability to walk effectively
    • You’ll have trouble starting, keeping up with or completing activities like climbing stairs or hills
  • Swelling of the spinal membrane
    • This causes severe pain and burning making it necessary to reposition more than once every two hours.

If your condition does not meet these requirements, don’t worry! You may still be able to meet the criteria of a medical-vocational allowance. This allowance is basically where the SSA agrees that while you do not meet a Blue Book listing, you’re still clearly unable to do work. They use a residual functioning capacity (RFC) to determine how your ability to work is impacted by your condition and pay you accordingly.

Meeting Disability Requirements with a Medical-Vocational Allowance

An RFC is an evaluation to be filled out by your doctor, and it’s actually available for download online. It’s meant to completely detail any limitations or restrictions you face because of your health conditions. Scoliosis can impact more than your spine, so be sure to work with your doctor to ensure all the intricacies of your specific scoliosis are accounted for in the evaluation. You should also make sure any other medical conditions that you have are properly considered, including (but not limited to) heart problems, mental illness, or breathing problems.

You should also indicate the following on the form:

  • Do you need to reposition every two hours?
  • Are you unable to stand for more than an hour or two at a time?
  • Can you sit for long periods of time?
  • Are you unable to lift more than 10 pounds or carry more than five pounds?
  • Are you unable to walk more than 100 feet?

The RFC gives the complete picture of your health. It makes the SSA aware of your limitations and why you are unable to hold down steady work or perform your daily tasks.

Starting the Social Security Application

If you are ready to apply for disability for scoliosis, you can visit the SSA’s website or schedule an appointment with a satellite SSA office to get the process underway. You can schedule an appointment with the SSA by calling toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

Have you applied for disability for scoliosis? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

9 comments on “Qualifying for Social Security Disability for Scoliosis”

  1. 1
    Allene R NIehaus on December 20, 2016

    I do seem to meet most of these requirements but I am nearly 82. I was working as a writer until about a year ago but I cannot sit long enough to do that now. I must stand to use my computer and when I get tired, I must go to bed. I cannot sit in a chair for more than five-8 minutes at a time. Going anywhere in a car — to a doctor’s apointment — is very hard and I must reposition quite often. Would I be eligible for disability for my rather severe scoliois/degenerative disc problems?

  2. 2
    Karen bacon on September 13, 2017

    Karen aged 51. I am diagnosed with scoliosis!hoever I do work with my husband and we are self employed. We have a hair salon . But some days I am in pain because of my condition. We’re do we stand?

    1. 3
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 14, 2017

      I would recommend reaching out to the author, Deanna Powers, for additional assistance and information. Her e-mail address is drp@ssd-help.org.

  3. 4
    Amy Brown on December 26, 2017

    Hello. My name is Amy. I am….was a Darn Good Dental Assistant. I have worked for the same Dr for almost 25 years. I also have an awful Scoliosis curve of 65 degrees that has resulted in 2 bulging discs, nerve pain, musculoskeletal pain, and just pain in general…..EVERY DAY! I am just at the point that I Physically can’t go on any longer so I have to quit. I hate that because my staff is more like family to me but I just can’t push myself any longer. My back doctor has instructed me to apply for disability. My question for you is can you help direct me in getting the proper information to be approved quickly. I am only 44 but I literally feel like I’m 94. Please Help!!. Thank You and God Bless, Amy Brown

    1. 5
      Christi Allmond on April 24, 2018

      Hi Amy-Your story is very similar to mine. I am 46 and have had 3 surgeries for scoliosis. First one when I was 12 (rods and bone fusion ), second one at 16 after breaking my rods and bone fusion in a car accident and my 3rd at 21 after finding out my rods were again broken (not sure how this happened). Anyway, fast forward I tried to not let all of this slow me down and worked full-time until I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m currently awaiting MRI imaging to see what all is going on but I have been told I have several bulging and narrowing discs.My curve is 75 degrees. I finally bit my pride and applied for disability in February 2018 and was approved 2 months later. This was such a relief. I know having current doctor documents helps to speed up the process but I can honestly say the process went very smooth for me. I don’t love thinking of myself as “disabled ” but unfortunately it has became reality. I hope this helps! Christi

  4. 6
    Amy Brown on December 26, 2017

    Hello. My name is Amy. I am….was a Darn Good Dental Assistant. I have worked for the same Dr for almost 25 years. I also have an awful Scoliosis curve of 65 degrees that has resulted in 2 bulging discs, bone spurs, nerve pain, musculoskeletal pain, and just pain in general…..EVERY DAY! I am just at the point that I Physically can’t go on any longer so I have to quit. I hate that because my staff is more like family to me but I just can’t push myself any longer. My back doctor has instructed me to apply for disability. My question for you is can you help direct me in getting the proper information to be approved quickly. I am only 44 but I literally feel like I’m 94. Please Help!!. Thank You and God Bless, Amy Brown

  5. 7
    April Elliott on April 29, 2018

    Christi-hi. I am April. I just had to say thank you for the inspiration. Much the same age and similar story, I recently gave in and applied. I was very afraid of not being taken seriously with our invisible disease. Thank you!

  6. 8
    Christi Allmond on May 9, 2018

    Good luck April! I know for me it has been emotional going through the process but not because it was difficult in any way. I had read so many sad stories of people waiting for years to be approved and figured it would be a fight but it wasn’t at all and everyone I dealt with was very helpful. The difficult part was just the fact that I’ve fought so hard not to be considered “different ” and have tried not to let this aching back get me down but as I’m aging the pain is getting worse which really scares me. Any of us dealing with this are fighters and that’s all we can do is keep fighting! It’s nice reading other people’s stories because nobody really gets all that a person goes through (emotionally and physically ) unless they are dealing with it also. Just remember you’re not giving up…..you’re just slowing down and that’s ok!

    1. 9
      Marie on June 30, 2018

      Christi, thanks for sharing your story. What did you have to prove to Social Security and what did your medical records have to show to be approved? Did you have up to date MRI evidence?
      I’m 55 and my larger curve is 51 degrees as of last year and progressing a degree a year. I have worsening severe sciatica. Can’t work. But I’m afraid I’ll be denied! Thanks for your help.

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