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edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Health Insurance Issues
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 (cannot take while working)


  • Hi Julie - Welcome to our community!

    As far as surgery being a requirement for SSDI, this is not true. The only thing you NEED to have in order to be considered disabled is to meet Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of disability:

    "A person MUST have a mental or physical impairment/condition that has either lasted 12 months or more (or is expected to last that long) or result in death, and the condition is so severe it prevents them from doing not only their past work, but ANY work WITHIN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY.

    You cannot be working at the time you file your claim.

    I sent you a PM - go to your inbox and read it.

    Good luck to you!

  • My spouse signed up on and didnt have surgery he got in in 2 or 3 months but here there is a waiting period for your first check it is 5 months so he didnt get his first one til july which was for june dont know if this helps.

    at this time i am also signed up on it see my list below of medical problems. Not saying i will get it at all or that quick if i do. I am 37. None of us asked for this pain and to have to work with it is unbearable i know i tried for 2 years after my surgery and only ended up with more problems. My physician said she would sign my papers also. Im just gonna fight for it. Only I know what i can and cant do and work is one of my cants. I also considering hiring a cleaning person just once every 2 weeks cant afford it really but i am considering it. I do know that here they go by your last 15 years of work and if you would be able to go back and do it. As for what they expect you to do in a future job i have no idea or even if they would expect me to be able to train for something which no way that would happen cant sit very long or stand very long and use of arms is limited. Just typing here i have to be in a recliner cant sit in a straight back chair horrible pain if i do. Ill let you know how mine goes when i hear. I do have a lawyer working on mine so hopefully all will be well.
    good luck
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