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edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Lower Back Pain
I would like to apply for social security disability, but I need to know if you have to have surgery before you qualify. I suffer from a herninated disc, arthritis on lower spine and pinched nerve. I have just completed 7 weeks of physical therapy (3x week) and cortisone injections. I am barely able to work, as my herninated disc is in the L-5 region and the pain starts when I sit in my office chair. I am 53-years old and have been at the same job for over 37 years. The job requires sitting at the computer for 8 hours, filing and bending down to reach files. I can no longer stand or sit for periods of time.
My doctor said she would sign disability papers, but said it could take a long time to get, as SSD might deny me because they could indicate surgery could help. She, herself, admitted surgery may not help me either. I can no longer go on with the pain. My physical therapist indicated is was a "position thing" with me when I sit in the chair. I believe the herinated disc and arthritis are aggravated by sitting in the same position for over 37 years. I would really like to know (if I quit), can I still be approved without surgery. Also, I just had MRI June 1, 2009 showing all the above.

Herinated disc - L5
Pinched nerve
Arthritis on lower spine
Physical therapy
Message therapy
Cortisone injections
Pain medication (unable to take when working)


  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around as there is a lot of very good information here. You may want to check out the insurance section as there are many post regarding SSDI. Also you may want to check the SSDI website and look at qualifying events as well. The process for SSDI is long and most of all claims are denied on the first go around. So you need to be prepared for that process. Honestly there is no one here could really say how your case will proceed through the ssdi system. Some go through without issues and then others are taking years to go through.

    Your doctor is smart saying they aren't sure if surgery can help you. With surgery there is no guarantees, however most surgeons give it in percentages though. With that being said there have been many one level lumbar fusions that have come and gone with success stories. Most of them no longer post as they are back out living a very productive life and to busy with daily living. What did a surgeon recommend? Surgery is not the only option available and most will try all forms of conservative treatment before introducing the idea of surgery unless there is a risk of paralysis or permanent damage. Often times it takes a blend of conservative treatment to find what is right for each individual person. Good luck and once again welcome to spine-health. Take care.
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