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Does sciatica qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

Sciatica refers to pain caused by a pinched sciatic nerve. This nerve extends from the spine, down the hips and through the legs. People with sciatica often have pain in these areas that is made worse by sitting or standing.

The sciatic nerve can be pinched for several reasons, including injury to the discs that insulate the spinal cord, damage or growths on the surrounding vertebrae, disease, or even tumors. Usually, sciatica heals on its own with time. Depending on the cause of the pinched nerve, however, sciatica may need to be treated with physical therapy, medication, steroid injections or surgery. Sometimes, there is no cure for the constant pain.

If you are affected by sciatica, it may be difficult or even impossible for you to continue working. If this is the case, you may consider applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

There are two types of Social Security benefits that can provide income for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI requires that a disabled person has worked for a certain number of years prior to filing for disability benefits. SSI benefits do not have a work requirement, but the program does have an income limit. In order to be eligible for SSI benefits, a disabled person’s income and resources cannot exceed an amount set by the government.

Is my sciatica a disability?

Once you are sure that you are eligible for either SSDI or SSI based on your employment history or your income, the next step is to prove that your sciatica is a qualifying disability. In order to prove you are disabled according to the Social Security regulations, you must show:

1. you are eligible for either SSDI or SSI based on your work history or limited income;
2. you are unable to engage in any substantial, gainful employment because of your sciatica;
3. the impairment caused by your sciatica has been established by objective medical evidence; and
4. the impairment caused by your sciatica has lasted or will last for at least 12 consecutive months.

It is not enough to show that your sciatica makes it difficult to do your job. In order to meet the second qualification, your medical evaluation must prove that your sciatica is so severe that you cannot do any job for which you would be qualified. Even if there are no other jobs in your area, the fact that you potentially could find other employment would make you ineligible to receive benefits.

This is a difficult standard to meet, and often sciatica alone will not be enough to qualify a person as disabled. Because most cases of sciatica resolve with time, only people whose sciatica is caused by a chronic disease or permanent injury usually qualify for benefits.

Why do I need an attorney?

Sciatica can cause debilitating pain. However, pain is often not enough to prove disability. If you suffer from sciatica, contact the attorneys at Rob Levine & Associates. We can speak with your doctors, assess your chances of success with a disability claim and guide you through the Social Security process. Call 1-877-LAW-SSDI today to get the benefits you deserve.