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Disability Retirement with Spinal Stenosis

JTEX53JJTEX53 Posts: 27
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Over the last 5-6 years my Degenerative Spinal Stenosis has became much worse. At 57, I imagine I'm in the prime target group of "Baby Boomers" with this type of condition as the body is getting old. I'm a high school teacher, I was wondering if anyone has tried for a disability retirement other than SSI/SSD. My conditions is Degenerative and not caused from an accident. In '07-'08 it started in my right upper back near my right shoulder blade. The epidural only lasted about a year, since then my lower back has started hurting severely and the MRI has showed some serious problems from L5-S1. I just can do all the things a high school teacher needs to do any longer as part of there job.

Please let me know of your attempts to get a disability retirement and if you have the documentation, MRI's and doctors diagnosis, do you have to be an absolute cripple to get a disabilty retirement. Can't live on Vicodins forever. If I just take it easy physically, I do pretty good but I don't have the luxury of going to lie down when my back starts hurting. The more walking, the sooner the pain starts and the same sitting for sevral hours working at the computer. I can deal with epidurals but surgery is something that will be a last resort. I just want out of the classroom but I don't know if I could do many jobs without standing for long periods or sitting at a computer for long periods.


  • JOhn if I remember correctly from your other post you are just beginning to get back to doctors. You were looking for info on an MRI you just had done. Right now you need to focus on finding out what is wrong and what can be done to help resolve the pain.

    No one here can tell you if you qualify for disability retirement. That is a question for your doctor. But it does seem to me that you are looking to get out of your job.
  • HI John :)

    You need to first get all the tests and a solid diagnosis and some treatment options before you should even try for any type of disability.
    If you jump into applying for it before trying different treatments I am sure you will be flat out denied :(

    If you have all this and I am misunderstanding you, I apologize...
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • What is disability retirement? Is that something offered by your employer?

    You might ask your human resources dept. about the requirements, but I know that for SSDI the requirements are pretty stringent (you have to have significant problems with basic functions such as sitting, standing, bending, twisting, and have exhausted most treatment modalities).

    Certainly if meds provide relief then I think you're out of luck (as indeed, as many of us can attest, you can stay on meds for the rest of your life!)

  • I retired under "Federal Disability Retirement" from my federal government job. It all depends on the "company" you are with as to what their requirements are to retire in this fashion. In federal government you have to become such that you can no longer do essential elements of the job you were hired for, they can't accommodate you, they can't move you to another position of similar and same pay *and* medically it has to be proven that you are indeed disabled. My SSD is internal to this retirement.

    As was already said, you can't really start that road until you get fully examined by your doctors and they agree that nothing can be done to 'make you whole' again or functional. Have you talked with your HR department to see if there is another position within the school system you can be moved to, and too you can do? Under the ADA, that is one of the steps, accommodation. If it is reasonable, most would try to work with you.

    So I guess we are saying is "Don't put the cart before the horse." Get with your doctors so they can have you undergo testing as they deem and see where you are at. I too get the impression that you also do not like your job, and that is adding to your pain, and as such you want out. Most of us didn't want to leave (me), but the spine and its affects had its own decision in that matter! Please keep us posted. *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I'm a high school teacher in Texas. If granted it would be through Texas Teacher Retirement System. The board consists of 3 doctors. If 2 of the three doctors agree with your specialist(Orthopedist)diagnosis. It is granted on 2.3% of your 3 highest average yearly salaries, time the # of years in TRS. It's not that I would be making out big time since I didn't start teaching until I was 41 and I'm now 57. It would only be about $18,000 per/year but better than SSI and then I could apply for medicaid, since I would be making too much to qualify for SSI or SSD but I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch. It's just I'm not physically up to what it takes to do my teaching job. No 8:00 am-3:30pm job more like 6:30m-4:30pm and most of the time longer. I haven't been the same mentally sharp, since I had a series of mini-strokes in 2009 and another just in September. If I'm not on my feet for 4-5 hours and sitting at a computer. I wouldn't need Vicodins to make it through the day. I do have to say, teaching high schools really does suck, you'd have to experience it to believe it and 16 years and being in pain and dealing with kids that parents do a lousy job raising their kids, is not a good mix for a teacher in extreme pain and a short fuse!!! I do want out big time, if I can do it 4 years earlier, so much the better.
  • Yes, I have been being seen by several Orthopedist for the last 12 years. It's just been the last five years, that things have progessively worsened from just a mild stenosis problem with my C7 vertabra, the epidural lasted about a year. The last series of MRI's a month ago showed some pretty severe problems from L5-S1. With the systems that are in place, I expect to have to go through more epidurals but surgery is something I'd have to really think about but if pain gets bad enough you'll just do about anything. I teach Health Science Technology a Career and Technology program for students interested in potentially entering a Health Career after high school. I have a pretty decent handle on the knowledge of my condition but far from an Orthopedist!
  • Yes, well imagine how it is for the kids...

    Spinal stenosis is actually correctable by surgery in some cases, so I'm not sure how that would figure in.

    But in general you have to get a doctor to agree not just with the diagnosis, but with the actual disability as well- and he doesn't just have to "sign you out" but fill out a complex series of questionnaires regarding your ability to do the job. So if you expect that your orthopedic specialist will find you unable to do your job despite medical intervention (including injections, medication, possibly surgery etc), then that's when permanent disability kicks in. Prior to that, your STD and LTD should cover you.

    Usually you can get a few injections a year, if those are helping.

  • Hi John! If you are asking about Social Security Disabiity, I can address that. I have pretty severe stenosis, also at L5-S1, as well as Degenerative Disc Disease and Spondy. I also have COPD. I worked for twenty years as a middle school secretary. When the economy tanked in CA in 2006 and more and more people were being laid off from the school district and it finally trickled down to me with my 20 years seniority, I decided to take my retirement. I decided I could live on my pension and find a school to work at part time if I chose to.At that time I had NO idea that I had these spinal problems because my doc for 10 years would poo-poo me and refuse to even do xrays - just gave me Motrin. I knew I was very uncomfortable sitting for too long or standing/walking for too long. It was painful. When it came to fire drills, they allowed me to be the one to stay inside to ring the all clear bell - I simply could not walk out onto the field and stand there while they went through the process. After I retired and complained to my newe doc here in Ill, he did xrays and MRI - my spine is a trainwreck! I know I need surgery for the spondy and stenosis, but I'm still holding off.
    For all those years I just thought I had a "backache"!

    Last October 21st I faced the realization that I cannot work, even part time. I'm not sure I could even sit long enough to read to first graders! So, sitting here, feeling sorry for myself, I applied online for SS Disability. My doctors supported me 100% and I had excellent documentation. I am not sure but I assume the COPD was taken into account as well, but it took me exactly 4 months from the time I applied until I got a phone call saying I was approved for SSD -Oct 21st - Feb 21st. They tried to get me back pay from Oct 2006 when I last worked but they wouldn;t pay it because there was no documentation from back then.

    John, you're right and I felt the same. It's hard to think of what else I could do for a living if I couldn;t sit, stand or walk for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I also had the epidurals, 3 of them and they helped alot, but no surgery for me until I have to.

    I'm pretty sure you have to be not working at all when you apply, though. Good luck to you and let us know if you apply!

  • I was unemployed all of last year. I was at a new school in district '08-'09 and missed a lot of days. When you are with a new school district in Texas you are on a probationary contact that first year, well my contract wasn't renewed. The only reason I accepted a new teaching position was for insurance. I could not get an Orthopedist to even see me w/o health insurance last year, so I suffered the whole year but not having to work my back problems weren't as bad as now unless I was very physically active. When I get out of bed, it's like being a cripple, hobbling around until pain meds kick in and my body warms up. Whether I end up with a disabilty retirement or not, I've already missed 10 days of the new school year, it's very possible that my contract will not be renewed again. Pretty much a viscious frustrating circle. Along with my recent mini-stokes, I take so many meds, I'm lethargic and haven't been mentally sharp since the first mini-strokes in Jan.'09 and had another in Sept. this year. I'll just have to see how it plays out. If I can survive 4 more years I can retire on my own terms but with my physical condition and the stress of my teaching job, I may not live another 4 years. Life isn't fair and we all here know that from our afflications!
  • After seeing a pain mgmt. Orthopedist today, was told that my back situation alone wouldn't qualify me for disabilty retirement because it can be treated(first more epidurals) but being on Plavix, I'll have to be off of it for a while before the epidurals because of potential bleeding. Having had 2 series of mini strokes over the last two years adds a lot to the case, so I will see a neurologist next, she sets me up with. She said this would help add additional credence to my case, once we're ready to submit the disabilty application to Texas Teacher Retirement System. It looks like this will take the majority of the next 6 months but I'll just take a day or two off a week as needed. The job stress will eventually kill me if I don't leave the classroom. Guess we'll see what happens first!
  • I was one of those school employees who never took "vacation time" because we had enough time off with summer break and spring break, etc. The more my back hurt, however, the more individual days I would take when my medication just wasn;t doing the job. And like I said, I was a school secretary so most of my day was spent sitting at a computer. I should have know something serious was up when I couldn't even SIT, huh? My daughter would love me to sue Kaiser Permanente for ignoring my back problems for 10 years, but who knows if it would have made much difference! And for 10 years before I worked in the office, I worked with little first graders, so that was 10 years spent bent over at the waist to help them all day long. As a San Diego school employee we accrued alot of hours of vacation and personal days - we even had "half sick" hours where we were paid half-time, so by the time I was needing to take time off for pain, I had plenty of time built up so I never lost any $$$ because I couldn;t work. I even sold back a month of vacation time when I retired PLUS took 2 weeks of "terminal leave", lol! I LOVED my job in the schools and I miss it every day. I was one of those freaks who even loved the crazy, hectic first and last months of school - just loved it, loved meeting all the new kids, etc:)
  • hi there, i am in the school retirement system too, I am a cook. i dont have that many yrs like you. but our contract with SERS, said if you got 5 full yrs you can apply, i have 8.5 yrs in the system and 3 yrs in subbing, which they take out retirement too.

    anyway i having back issue of other health issue spinal stenosis radidpathy numness in the legs,, so when i stand long periods it hurts and when i bending to much too. hurt like the dickens.

    anyway i applied and they sent me to one of the orthpedics which is pshiartist cant spell it right it some form of back specailist,

    then they want me to see a pschiatrist for mental static. but where i was so sick i couldnt make it and had to cancel, so then they suppose redo that,

    then i got a call and saoid they not rescehdule it just go by what they have, i said hey i go to anyone, and she said that not necessary.

    so later i fot a letter sound differnt. so i called and taLK to another superviosr, and she said that it wont hurt you not going to it and they have enough info.
    i said well want to make sure have enough and she said we know you cooperating, and then she said you take care of your self.... that was it.

    i havent heard back i worried, i not sure what it mean when she said take care of you self, i dont know if she know all the stuff i going thru,

    see im on morphine,and neurotin, zanflex and clospam, and diffent ones.
    the thing is i cant focus on these medications, i be half loopy and being around high temp and meat slicer,
    and picking up heavy thing bending i could drop and then i either my self or other by accident. so i hoipe they look at that,

    i cant sit down anytime i want, it a constant on the go from 7-1:30 so it at the hiogh school and there times were running our tails off b/c we have ran out of food. it not like mid school elemtary when you have a head count.

    the high sch they have al-cart and they might eat more then so you never know....

    but anyway im not sure if your a gut or woamn so pls excuse me.....

    i hope you the best,,,,,, people like us that has work all our life and we problay get denied while other, i dont want to do there get it and abuses it.

    i know i dont have school yrs i have been working since im was 16 yrs old and i think it unfair how they count your time in social security, i work since 16 and loose out.

    i hate the govt i thought if i work early then i have my yrs in in case things like this happen, then find out with the school they screwed you where you cant applied ssdi. oh well. i just hope i make it.

    i love working with the kids when my son was there and everyone made me feel good about my job, the kids made me me feel good and even called me mom......

    but when i came off my one med leave over my liver and we got a new boss which she only got it b/c she had a name not b.c she knew how to be a boss, if you know what i mean. she was a cook like me and i was longer cook again in a small town, it who you are and money talks.

    well anyway she hated i came back b/c she was hire her family and friends after the cooks retireed. but alot of them retired b/c of her crap. she want me out of there b/c my last position besides one more she want leave b.c she one that my boss is scred of her. so she dont bother her.

    when i came back she took my position and gave it to somone else and never did anyone else, i had a union leader that to scared b/c she was a cook she kiss ass to the boss.

    so she started putting more heavy work on me to hope i hurt and end up get fired or have to resigh.

    so just in 09 before easter i was pulling on those heavy drinks of gatorades cases and so on water and when i turn tiwted, and thought i pulled muscle, so i thought it friday i be ok get home, when it hurt the whole tile at work, when got home bent over it crack and i broek ribs 2 of them, i think it was done on the job it just did the tips and i just turn the right tirn and it just did the number.

    anyway it took me off the rest of the school yr. my boss got mad, so i got to keep my insurance thing but no pay till summer. then they said i neede a letter, then i broke another rib again and then my back started to get worst, then i went to the big union leader and ask for help, she said as long as you been back a yr.... you can ask for anothere med k,eaver if a doc has you off so i present a letter to the superintent and he agree to it..... the boss had a big fit..... so know i off till the beging of the next school yr.

    the dr said i dont think you beable to go back and do that work so that why i applied.

    i hope you the best...

    can i ask in you contract do they have like you on medical leave they said that how our retirement one works and if anytime within, they think you can work then you job has to give you your job back,,,, which that sounds nice, buut that makes a boss my pea off.

    do you have that???? i cant take insurance it to high i wish i could.

    i lose about 450.00 of my old wage... that sucks.... it the time anyway i hope yopu the best keep us posted. if you need to talk just mess me

    Email Address Removed

    ps in my area there hard to find attroney to find to fight it, and the ones i found they want 2 grand or more to start, that crazy... take care..... ang

    sorry if sloppy tired not been to sleep.


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  • John,

    First, I am sorry to hear about your pain situation. We mostly know what you are dealing with in that area.

    I retired from the military after 20 years. I had injured my back during the first Gulf War but continued without treatment until retirement in 1998. My low back had always hurt after the accident and continued to worsen. Long story short, I applied and receive full disability from the VA. However, after my doc told me that my back will never get better and working was not an option, I applied for SSD. I did everything on my own and they denied me. So, I did an informal appeal and was awarded SSD of $1700 monthly. I also had an issue with PTSD so combined is what was the deciding factor. But, I know of several others who applied and received full SSD on their back alone. They key is documentation. You have to ensure your medical records are up to date with all complaints of back pain and all treatment received. You have to have an MRI, Xrays, etc. proving back injury and chronic pain.

    Good luck.
  • SSD will take a while if approved (7/12mnth. I would suggest that you apply for disability and in the meantime see your doctor, have MRI and undergo any treatment your doctor recommends. Once you apply for disability everytime you see or dr or have xrays contact your Social Security Administrator so they can review you records.

    I was denied the first time and even denied on appeal however I applied agin and was approved. I have been dealing with stenosis for the last 3 years.

    Good luck
  • i am new here. any canadians with ODSP/CPPD experiences?
  • Hey John my name is Chris, I was diagnosed with having Spinal Stenosis and Spondylosis. I was having a stabbing pain in my lower back. Sometimes it felt like I was being eletricuted. I was having radiating pain down my legs and numbness. I had a lower back fusion L4, L5 and S1. Before the operation I was having acute pain, after the operation I am having chronic pain every day. I also have Degenerative Scoliosis which limits my walking, by me walking causes severe pain to radiant from my mid back around my rib cadge causing it difficult to breath. I am taking Noraco which Hydrocodone 10-325 for the pain, which helps sometimes and sometimes not. I have also been trying for 2 years to get disability from the State Of North Carolina. I also have a total left hip replacement which adds to the pain and the difficult of walking. The way they have been treating me is you need to be completely not to do any usual work. I you can sit and answer a phone, they say well you can do something. I was a Electrical Engineering Technician when I suffered for 20 years before leaving my position for LTD.
  • :W I just applied for Disability and SSI here in Tennessee...just got 4 thick envelopes of paperwork to fill out this weekend...all about how my "problem" has changed my life, work ability, and pain.. What a laugh...I think I'll need a book to write all of this... Wish me luck guys....

  • I started my epidurals for my lower back. The Orhtopedic Pain Mgmt doctor did 2 injection of the left and right sides, this was on a Monday. Maybe this is a coinsidence but I ended up in the E.R. two days later with and attack of Diverticulitis. I did research and found corticosteroids can cause perforations and attacks of Diverticulitis. I knew I had Diverticulosis but had never had an attack before. It was not pleasant. I've finished my regimine of antibiotics and am much better. I did call my pain mgmt speacialist and she cancelled my next series of epidurals and we have a consulataion on Feb. 18. The epidurals reduced my lower back pain by about 25%. My upper back that I have had a epidural in the C7 area is still hurts severely if I work at the computer from 30 minutes-2 hours.

    As previously posted, I'm a high school teacher. This has just turned into such a long drawn out process. I imagine, it will be recommended for me to have another Colonoscopy, which I don't look forward to but would be wise to see what going on in my colon. I highly suspect my late mother had either IBS or Chron's disease. She just wasted away the last year of her life. I'm still attempting to work a job that is extremley high stress and the 10-11 hours days and the pain have really taken it's toll on me physically and mentally. The pain meds Norco 10/325 are a double edged sword, they don't work for my upper back and most of the time for my lower back pain. Thes meds also constipate me severley so I'm on stool softeners and eat prunes every morning with a lot of water. This just turns into blowing my system out and it very watery. I just don't know if this pressure(trauma) caused my problems or not.

    Has anyone had attacks of Diverticulitis after corticosteroid treatments. It has been document in medical journals that corticosteroid therapy has cause perforations and bleeding in the diverticula(if I understood what I read). Please let me know if you have had attacks what you Pain Mgmt. doctor told you and your GI doctor and your results of your Colonoscopy.
  • Hi John, Just wanted to see how things have been going for you. I had 20 yrs with a school system before I had to go out on disability retirement. Not what I had planned on doing. I drove a school bus for 17 yrs then decided to switch over to custodial work because I was looking at the retirement end of the job then. It would be more hours, less cost for insurance (I covered the family) and would be better bring home for my retirement pay. I was only going to put in a total of 25 yrs and possibly retire then because my husband is already retired. Everything was planned out well and working. Except.....My back occasionally would bother me. Not realizing it, I had been going to my Family Dr averaging once a month or so to get adjusted and to get a Torydol injection. Then I would feel great again. After 3 yrs though that wasn't working so well anymore. I had to take a few vicodin just to get through the night to do my job. It was a very physical job. Turns out I had a herniated disc, bulging disc, and off to surgery I went. Never to return to my job. My perfect layed out plans all changed. Poof!!! Now being on disability retirement is not all you think it might be John. So think twice before you have to be on it. Don't get me wrong. For me it was a blessing. I carry the health insurance for both my husband and myself (He has existing issues) so by the time that is taken out there really is no income left to pay for all the doctor visits and medications needed montly. The insurance is terrible and only gets worse each year. Nothing like what we had while we were working. Now I realize you are a teacher and your salary is higher but all the rest is the same. Also every 2-3 years you go under revaluation to see if you still qualify for the disability. I am due next month and even though I am worse than before I still get nervous because one man's opinion determines the outcome of my insurance/pay. SSI people don't go through this that I know of. Once they get it, it's theirs for ever. I still think that is a rip for me. I payed into SS for years before ever working for the school system. I have enough credits but because I did not pay into SS for the last 10 years I could not file for SSI. Oh well, good luck to you. Things are really getting shook up now with the schools now. My son is a teacher and I worry for him. We are in Ohio.
  • Hope things are as well as can be expected with you.
    I'm in the same situation as far as SSI also but my Dr. already told me, there is no way my case is that severe. I just think they don't want to deal with disabilty issues at the upscale Private Hospitals. No insurance, there is the door or unless you're wealthy.

    Not too much has changed, except my contract wasn't renewed(No surprise). My pain mgmt Dr. has really left me high and dry for 4 months(no epidural treatments, still handing out vicodins prescriptions. I called my referring Othropedist and asked what the hell is up. So I have a consult May 11 with same pain mgmt. Dr.I don't know if my attack of Diverticulitis scared her or what. There is a correlation/proof of patients on long term corticosteroid therapy treatment having colon perforations from the steroids.My referring Orthopedist along with my Gen. Practioner think the attack of Diverticulitis was a coincidence but I had never even had a minor attack before but I knew I had Diverticulosis.

    I was hoping to solve my back pain long enough, that even if I decided to leave the classroom, I could work for a school food service program that counts toward TRS system. When I was in my 20's, I worked in institutional food service from cook to mgmt. for civilian contractors that ran dining halls and I've managed retaurants also. School Cafeteria food is pretty much preprepared. Not much real cooking involved. If I can't get my back pain under control, doubt I could be on my feet all day.

    I can draw unemployment for a good year plus at $415 a week, I did nothing wrong to be terminated, just my contract wasn't renewed(really what I wanted). Large city school districts are having massive layoffs due to Texas' budget deficit. I'm going to check into COBRA for health insurance and see how much assistance I can get with premiums. The problem with Spinal Stenosis, you're lucky if the epidurals last a year but a pain free year would be great, I need to get off the Vicodins ASAP. If I can hang in ther 4 more years, maybe S.S. will be there. If I take an early retirement when I turn 59 it would be approx. $12000 p/year if I can just make it the rule of 80 it would be over $20000 p/year, need 3 years in the TRS system in some capacity, substituing doesn't count. I need to speak with the S.S. people to see, where what I make in retirement starts affecting my S.S. benefits negatively.

    Just have to keep things in perspective of how much worse things could be. Our economic system in the USA is a real disaster waiting to happen.

    Take care.
  • Had a medial lower lumbar nerve branch block. It did help but all this is is to see if the lydocaine numbs specific nerves, that would be targeted in a neurotomy. Really took it easy the next week but pain returned quickly. The next week I tried to do some activities walking for more than 20-30 minutes aggrevated lower back, squating and bending the same. I needed to do some simple work on my RV but required climbing up and down a ladder 5-6 time same thing pain returned. If I don't have to be very active, I could get buy with probably less than 2 Norco 10/325's and break them in half trying to minimize, the opiate in my system. Sometime I get headaches 6-8 hours w/o pain med. I'm just wondering if this could be signs of withdrawl.
    I'm still in no better condition than when we started in Oct. 2010. I want to be active because I need to lose some weight which I'm sure is compounding my back pain. If the neurotomy helps me for a year or so, I'll be glad for the relief. I'm just no longer in good enough physical or mental state to go back to the stress of the high school classroom.
    Guess I'll have to try to find a position in some capacity with a school district so I don't have to take such a large hit on my pension.

    I'm just burned out from the classroom and the state of the educational system in our high schools. 25-30% of the students ruin it for the students and the teacher. At least I'm just 4 years away from full retirement but that's a little less than 50% of my 3 highest years salary average and that's $50,000 , so I'd draw $24,000 a year, I'll have to see how much of a hit on S.S. I'll end up taking. I'm just tired of being tired and in pain.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Having just gone through the gauntlet of SSD, I have grown to have a respect for the substantial methodology they employ in their determination.

    I will share the highlights with you:

    A. Common statements include: Do you have a Condition/Illness or disorder that will (or is expected to) last greater than one year.

    B. Does it impair your ability to perform ADL's (activities of daily living).

    Now for the heavy stuff: Applicable Law(s)(abridged)

    The Social Security Administration has established a 5 step sequential evaluation process for determination whether an individual is disabled. The steps are followed in order. If it is determined that the claimant is not disabled at a step of the evaluation process, the evaluation will not go to the next step.

    At step one the ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) must determine whether the claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity (currently working) if he/she is.... then they are not disabled regardless of what their physical or mental limitations maybe. They will not proceed to step two.

    At step two, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has a medically determinable impairment that is "severe" or a combination of impairments that is "severe" within the meaning of the regulations.
    (Significantly limits the ability to perform basic work activities). If the claimant does not have a "severe" or combination of "severe" medical impairments ... then they are not "disabled" and can not proceed to step three.

    At step three, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant impairment or condition or combination of impairment meet of exceed the criteria of impairments listed in 20 CFR part 404 Subpart P Appendix 1. If the impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals the criteria and meets the duration requirement then the claimant is disabled if it does not, the analysis proceeds to the next step.

    Before considering step four of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ must first determine the claimant’s residual functional capacity. An individuals RFC is his/her ability to do physical and mental work on a sustained basis despite limitations from his/her impairments. In making this finding the ALJ must consider all of the claimant’s impairments, including those that are not severe. Next at step four the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has residual functional capacity to perform the requirements of his/her past relevant work. If the claimant has the residual functional capacity to do their past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled. If not then proceed to step 5.

    At the last step of the sequential evaluation process the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is able to do any of work considering his/her residual functional capacity considering age, education, and work experience. If the claimant is able to do other work, he/she is not disabled. Although the burden of proof of proving disability at this step, a limited burden of proof shifts to the SSA. The SSA (Social Security Administration is responsible for providing such evidence that work exists in significant numbers within the claimants RFC considering age, education, and work experience.

    The SSA may also bring in other criteria to be considered on a case by case basis to arrive at a final determination. In those cases the SSA must determine the extent that the other criteria are a factor in the determination of the above criteria and could use those factors to allow or disallow the determination of "disability".

    My case had 5 1/2 pages of determinations and justifications covering each of the 5 points ....After 16 months - 2 obligatory denials a date hearing was set. The ALJ finally got my case and gave me a fully favorable determination without an actual hearing. Interesting!?

    Power of prayer? (or I'm just a mess).

    I hope this summary helps - You may want to google or Bing - Disability Secrets for more information and tips.

    The govenment site is WWW.SocialSecurity.gov and has a ton of information. (as it should)

    As always ... Warmest Regards to all,

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • The Texas TRS for Disabilty Retirement is who I'd apply through. It consisist of 3 doctors on the board and 2 of the 3 Drs. must concur. I just don't know if they look at can I continue to function and do my job as a classroom teacher satisfactorily or just do any type of work period. I don't have any idea if they look at the same criteria as SSD. I haven't paid into S.S. in a long time and have received the routine letter from S.S. of what I would qualify for S.S. benefits but that I would not be eligble for SSD/SSI due I lack quarters paid into to meet SSD disabilty minimum qualification. I have not even attempted to file paper work yet. Not working may help my situation but I guess I can take an early retirement, file for disabilty, if turned down speak with an attorney. I can function fairly well, it's just the pain, that is the issue. This year I made a full week only a couple times. Standing and walking causes me severe pain and working at a computer for much longer than an hour does the same. Not many jobs if any jobs that doesn't require both of these job duties. All the meds I'm on, makes me lethargic and not mentally sharp. With high school kids that like sharks with me bleeding in the water. It was struggle just to physically be at work must less perform proficiently!My condition has cost me two teaching positions in the last 3 years, The only reason I took the position this year, was for the insurance.

    Thanks for you comments and references d.
  • I guess I am going to be viewed as the "bad guy" here.... From what YOU posted, I feel more of your "disability" retirement is to get AWAY from your job. Sorry to say that, but so far you have not given US enough to show you can not work - be it a different job. You HATE what you do....

    I know teaching can suck (certificated flight instructor and adjunct college (qualified) professor here), so I hear you. The medical information you have presented doesn't pan out yet. Okay, I may get a 'warning' for this, but this is what *I* am seeing. You HATE your job, you do have some spine issues...but issues you could adapt to other jobs of similar pay? I would love to work again...not so much for the money (my retirement annuity is good), but a distraction....can't do even basic jobs with reliability and my stupid back reactions. You haven't shown that. Maybe you are, but again...you haven't shown that..

    Brenda - aka "bad guy".....
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda,
    No that isn't at all what I really want. Doing nothing productive and not having the finances to be active and productive, will end up taking its mental toll on a person. I'm just very frustrated that my doctor's haven't made any progress. My life has come down to revolving around my meds and pain. I know the possibilty of being granted a diabilty retirement is quite slim. Between having a series of mini-strokes in 2009 and the progression of my Spinal Stenosis over the last 10+ years and my age of 58 puts me in a very precarious position job/career wise. I may have to suck it up and try to work in a menial job capacity for a school district in food service or some clerical support capacity, to meet the requirements for my pension. I've been through some tough spots in my life and you learn if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger.

    Yes I have come to hate teaching but it's rather bold and brazen for you to compare your position in teaching to that of of having taught at 3 public high schools that have a very low socioeconomic demographic population(ages 14-19 years of age and disabilties)over the last 16 years.
    I now face not having health insurance to continue my back treatments. One last thing what type of income do you have coming in and do you have a spouse that assists in finances/health insurance.

    What I would advise is for you to do is substitute in a large high school similar to what I described for a few days. If you think a teacher sits and stays in their classrooms from 7:30am-4:00pm and their day is done, you have come to the wrong perception of what public school teaching is like. You have the right to your opinion and no hard feelings but answer some of my questions on your sources of income/health care/insurance. Have a good day.
  • John,

    Thank you for giving your name. :) Of what you have posted, your 'mini strokes' are most concerning. A stroke, is a stroke, is a stroke - not good!

    I didn't list my teaching credentials to trivialize that of teaching teens, but to show I too understand the 'teaching' aspect if you will. I've done some teaching in middle and high schools, and believe me, I am NOT impressed with the attitudes of our present youth. So to that, I "take my hat off" to you.

    It just sucks when a career we loves becomes a career we hate? I guess I feel *that* pain as I loved my career, but had no choice and had to leave it. I was recently offered a pretty good job as a Director of (air) Operations to which mentally I have the tools, but knew I could not instill the physical requirements.....I had to turn it down after much trepidation. The sucky part? I could have dictated my hours and to a large extent, my duties..but since I couldn't guarantee 100%, I turned down the job.

    So no jab on you, just wanted to clarify that there is a lot to being approved for disability beyond that of doing the job you are presently in? I hope and pray you can either mature to 'regular' retirement, or be awarded disability retirement. But, based on what we've seen here, it might be a big fight to be approved. You are your best advocate, so don't give up the fight!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks for the info metalneck. SSD is a painful process and wait. Like we spine sufferers need another worry. After all we do pay into SS for a reason either to be disabled or retire with SS. I would, like most all would trade my health to be able to work. SSD is barely enough to survive on, let alone live on. I was turned down last year and reapplied 2/21/11 with a good lawyer and so far I have not been approved as of yet. I hope to hear something in the next month or so. Good luck to all with SSD and their spinal problems.
  • I will have a Neurotomy on the lower lumbar/sacroiliac nerves on the right side in one session and about 10 days later same on the left. If I get enough relief, I'll try to find a position with a school district in some capacity that pays in to the Texas TRS system. At this point, I can't be picky. I have years of experience in institutional food service when I was in my 20's from cook to management or Maybe a paraprofessional in education. I have to give myself a month to see the level of results of the Neurotomies. If killing the nerves, until the eventually regenerate, gives me a year or so relief, I'll take it. I have other health issues compounding my situation but not to the point that if my back is releatively pain free, I do plan going back to work if I can find a position. It's time to leave the classroom as the full time teacher in charge though. Still at 58 it's going to be tough! I know of the resources at my disposal to assist me in returning to work. I can take an early retirement but it would cut my retiremeny in half with only 4 years left before, I could retire w/o penalties. At least I have outs, many people in our country don't even have that. Have to keep things in a positive perspective. Our country is headed for some very tough times!
  • John
    Hi. I don't post here often. I have avoided surgery since diagnosis. I recently started having increasing nerve symptoms. So am in the process of seeing a neurosurgeon and just had new lumbar and cervical mri's done. I am now 51, and had worked from the age of 14. I had also been in the Army for almost 3 years. I was in the medical field until 2003. We had an unplanned, total surprise, baby in that year. I was 43 at the time. Tried to go back to work part time, while she was small. In 2006 herniated my L4-L5, plus had bilateral CTS for over 15 years. I had permanent nerve damage in both hands . I had release surgery on right hand 2007. Nerve damage same before and after surgery, so opted to not have left hand done. I also have cervical issues discovered in 2001 and multiple levels. I wanted to still work, and after my herniation asked the neurologist I had been seeing on and off since 2001. He was the one to tell me that I couldn't work anymore and I needed to apply for SSDI. After checking into it, I found out because I had been off work from having had a baby since 2003. That time had counted against me, for not working. If I didn't apply within a year, I would no longer qualify for SSDI. Even though I had worked for 30 years full time. My only time in that span of not working was when I was a junior in high school and was in sports, band and academics to increase my chances for scholarship. Anyway, I didn't want to believe the Doctor, but went ahead and applied for SSDI, and got a lawyer within the state thats law firm specialized in social security and workers compensation. The process, exams, paperwork, and doctor visits were a nightmare. I couldn't believe what they put people through to be determined disabled. My initial application was denied, which is what happens in most of the time. I was then put into the appeal process, and my lawyer was accumulating the documentation necessary for an appeal in court. I live in NY so my lawyer told me that they had a new option where they put cases before administrative judges directly. With no court appearances. They just go by the documentation, he thought my case might be one they would do that with. Well turned out he was right. My appeal went right to a judge and was approved. The lawyer never had to do anything except collect documentation and send it to the SSI board. I was in a bad age range also, for them not wanting to approve, because I was going to be collecting a bunch of years before retirement age. All this means, that if you have a doctor or 2, that believe you are 100% disabled you can try for disability. If you have sick time saved up, you can use that time to submit your case. I know now that my doctor was right, and I couldn't work anymore. Hard adjustment to make both physically and mentally. As well as the depression, pain, and loss of social contacts. Which for me was usually my coworkers while at work. I didn't socialize outside of work very much. So wanted you to know, it isn't impossible to qualify, and I haven't had to resort to surgery, till probably now. Good luck and take care. Sorry this was so long.
  • John,
    TRS is really very different from SSDI. Even the paperwork is much simpler. I had to take a disability from teaching 11 years ago. I am just 57 now. TRS figures your disability as if you have the magic Rule of 80. As said here it is not the greatest, but I am happy to hve the income and the insurance even though it is expensive. I FOUGHT after about 4 years to get Medicare. Social security kept telling me I was not eligible for it and I finally forced their hand since my doctor kept encouraging me to do so. That sort of blew up i my face because now Medicare is primary and my TRS insurance is secondary. My price of TRS insurance dropped from 300 a month to $100 and then I pay for Medicare, too. They won't take the Medicare out of my check and I have to remember to pay it quarterly and this year finally started having my bank draft it once a month. That is much easier. TRS lets me sub or work for aschool 90 days a year. I do that now that my health has leveled off.

    Well, I was until this year when I fell and have been out with knee surgery and cervical issues.

    I also now work part time.

    TRS made me have that annual review for about three yrs. I was always scared to death that in October they would say "no you are no longer disabled" and that no one would hire me. After three years they sent my docs paperwork to fill out that was much more detailed and granted mine without the annual review from then on.

    Anyway, if you are still having issues, fill out the paperwork and have your doctors do their side. It is not anything in comparision to the number of SSDI forms. My doctor submitted my paperwork and within 4 weeks I was told it was granted.

    Good luck with this and I hope you hanging in there.

    Oh yeah, by TRS rules you just have to be disabled and unable to perform the duties of your job. SS says you have to be unable to perform any job.

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