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Benefit Options or Not?

Hi all, my name is Rick and I'm looking for some guidance on my options if any.

DDD, L4/L5 mostly, some osteophytes, foramen narrowing, confirmed by CT and MRI. Under care of neurosurgeon, another appt in 4 wks after the most recent MRI. Sciatica pain, either or both legs, radiculopathy.

I'm 55, work for National Defence, been suffering for about a year, although not to the extent of most of you. I am not in constant pain, typically only when standing/walking. It's variable on the amount of time and the amount of pain but generally only a 1-2 level but do have to relieve the pain by sitting, squatting, etc. I also do the leg give out thing but always catch myself in a millisecond so have never come close to falling. From a work perspective I can do some of my tasks but not most, I work as a technician. While my employer is being patient waiting for doctor's reports, appts, surgeon appts, it is clear this isn't going to get much better and it is unlikely I can continue to be employed in what I do.

I don't think I'm bad enough for surgery compared to the risk at this point. I don't want to take pain meds, I was doing some chiro and Naturopath infrared treatments, not sure if it's helped. Hasn't hurt. I am not able to do some of my hobbies like squash/tennis/golf.

I've done some online research but am confused with the options/meanings of disabled, etc in terms of whether I qualify for short term disability, long term disability, or medical retirement (i.e. no pension penalty because of age), or nothing at all.

In a nutshell, I'm looking for some guidance/answers to

1. I'm confused with wording of disability - I've read if you can't do any meaningful job (widely open to interpretation) to if you can't do all of the tasks at work.

2. If I qualify for something, what would it likely be - Temporary disability, Long term disability, or medical retirement. I also don't understand how CPP disability fits into any of this. How long do these processes take. If it's a long time, I can't be bothered. I'm going to retire shortly with or without medically related benefits. If I'm entitled, great, if not, will just make the best of it. (Here's the catch, have a military pension, plus employment. Civilian pension will be small so when I leave work, income will be about 33% of current). I'm OK with that after 36 yrs of working I'm done and if my back is going to get worse, I don't want to wait any longer to enjoy what I can.

3. If my situation meant I could qualify for benefits, does choosing not to have surgery mean you automatically don't qualify.

4. Where do I go from here in terms of what to apply for, or do I not likely qualify for any of the options?


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,647

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • if the surgeon recommended it ? Osteophytes are simply bone spurs......but foraminal narrowing can be relieved by opening up the foramina and that might improve your overall condition.
    As far as short term, long term, and social security disability.........short term is usually when a medical condition requires you to take time off of work, ie surgery, etc.......long term kicks in after the short term expires, and the requirements for SSD are more stringent and can take some time to get approved, depending on the condition and what your surgeon is telling you are the basis for you not being able to work in any capacity.
    Even if your surgeon tells you that you can not work at all, the IME ( independant medical examiner) appointed by the SSD adminstration must agree...and if not, then your claim can be denied, and you can appeal but unless your condition is so severe as to warrant an award, then you may not get it
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