Social Security Disability for Degenerative Disc Disease

Our attorneys represent Social Security Claimants suffering with back and neck injuries.  Our lawyers travel to  disability hearing offices and appear before Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) throughout the United States including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico, Washington and Florida.

The Social Security Disability Listing for degenerative disc disease is covered under Listing 1.04 which deals with disorders of the spine.

1.04 Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture), resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord. With:


A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine);


B. Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours;


C. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively, as defined in 1.00B2b.

Degenerative disc disease is a condition of the spine where there is gradual deterioration of the discs between the vertebrae’s.   Symptoms include pain in the lower back, radiating pain, tingling, and weakness.  Pain caused by degenerative disc disease may increase with activity.

In evaluating your degenerative disc disease, Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the following:

  • Nerve root compression
  • Limitation of motion, motor loss, sensory or reflex loss
  • Weakness or severe burning
  • Positive straight-leg raising test
  • Medical testing or imaging

The SSA will review medical records to see how degenerative disc disease affects your maximum physical ability to perform work-related activities on a continuing basis.  Social Security is required to consider the nature and extent of your degenerative disc disease, and how this condition restricts your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, and pull, as well as your ability to perform postural or manipulative activities (i.e. bending, twisting, stooping, reaching, fingering, or feeling).  Additionally they will access any other limitations that your degenerative disc disease might cause, such as a need for environmental restrictions, unscheduled breaks, or excessive absences due to symptoms or treatments.

Although many people file disability claims based on degenerative disc disease, it is, however, not an easily won case, especially for individuals younger than 50. The Office of Disability Determination Services tends to be dismissive of cases involving back pain, and medical records are considered critical evidence in disability claims involving degenerative disc disease.