An injury to your back, neck or spine can have an immediate and drastic impact on your professional future. Obviously, a spinal cord injury can cause medical consequences that prevent someone from continuing the same work. Neck and back injuries can also cause debilitating pain and functional limitations that prevent someone from doing the same work as prior to the injury or living without medical support.
Some people automatically assume that a fractured vertebra, spinal cord injury or significant soft tissue injury to their back would qualify them for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Many spinal issues are among the listed qualifying conditions.
However, not every worker with a back injury will receive SSDI when they apply.
The injury has to prevent someone from working
Assistive technology and medical treatment have improved to such a degree that those with back injuries and even spinal cord injuries can potentially continue working. While they may not be able to work the same job they previously performed, they could likely move into a different career if their current one is too demanding.
The practical implications of your injury will be what determines if you qualify for benefits, rather than your diagnosis. A worker hoping to secure SSDI benefits will typically need to show that their condition prevents them from performing any kind of gainful employment and will continue to affect their employment for at least the next year.
Those who have worked in a blue-collar profession for decades and who have only a marginal education can sometimes secure SSDI benefits when a back or spinal injury would force them to change professions. For most workers, however, the ability to work any job will likely prevent them from qualifying for SSDI benefits.
Adequate medical documentation is crucial
Whether you need to establish that your symptoms from your injury are so severe that you cannot work at all or you need to prove that you can no longer work the same job, you need medical records to convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) to decide in your favor.
It is quite easy for workers to make small mistakes during the claims process that prevent them from getting benefits or delay their approval. Learning more about what qualifies you for SSDI benefits can help you determine if your back injury is a reason to submit an application.