Accidents are part of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, thousands of Americans will experience a devastating injury caused by an accident in the workplace. Many of these injuries will require little recovery time, while others may persist for an extended period. One of the classic examples of injuries that can affect you to the point of being unable to work is neck injuries. Fortunately, you may be able to obtain compensation for your neck injury while you recover. Our Fayetteville AR disability lawyers are available to help you receive the benefit payments you deserve.
While Social Security Disability benefits are a necessity for many individuals, it is often challenging to prove you have a qualifying condition. Neck injuries are especially difficult because of the nature of neck and spinal damage. It is not uncommon to experience debilitating pain without sufficient medical evidence. Because of the problems involved, the majority of initial Social Security claims are denied.
Before filing for Social Security Disability benefits, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney. If you suffered an incapacitating injury that makes it impossible to work, monthly benefit payments could be necessary for making ends meet. It is crucial to have an advocate in your corner. Contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438 to make an appointment.
Qualifying for Disability After a Neck Injury in Arkansas
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides assistance to those who are injured and cannot return to work. This financial aid is known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a federal program available to those who have accumulated enough work credits to qualify for financial assistance. Many people tend to confuse this type of financial aid with Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unlike SSDI, SSI is available to those who have low income and are 65 years or older, disabled, or blind.
Understanding the difference between these two types of financial aid is essential to determine whether you qualify for assistance. Qualifying for SSDI benefits requires petitioners to go through a lengthy process comprising five conditions that a petitioner must meet; we discuss each one of them below.
1. You cannot Engage in “Substantial Gainful Activity”
One of the elements you must meet when filing your SSDI claim is that you cannot engage in a substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA refers to a monthly income beyond the limits imposed by the SSA. In other words, a person who earns income above the SSA’s limit may not qualify for SSDI; as of 2019, the SGA limit for SSDI is $1,220 per month.
2. Your Injury Must be Severe
The second hurdle you must clear in your SSDI claim is establishing the severity of your injury. The SSA will automatically qualify certain conditions that the agency says are severe. A severe condition is one that is expected to last for at least 12 months or that is likely to result in death. If your condition is deemed severe, you may be qualified to obtain financial aid through SSDI.
3. Your Injury Must be Included in the SSA’s Blue Book
The SSA has a book in which they list all the conditions and illnesses that qualify for SSDI. The book is divided into different categories under which all conditions are listed and is known as the “Blue Book.” If your neck injury is not explicitly listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, you may be able to establish an approximation based on your condition, so it may still be possible for your injury to qualify for SSDI.
4. Possibility of Returning to Work
The SSA will evaluate whether you can return to your job despite your injury. If you are able to return to work, you may not continue with the qualifying process, and your SSDI benefits will not be paid. Remember, the SSA will only provide SSDI benefits to people who are disabled due to an injury. You should keep this in mind when applying for SSDI benefits.
5. Possibility of Performing a Different Job
Even if you cannot return to do the job you once did, the SSA may try to see whether you can perform another type of job, even if such a job is not related to your original one. If you can perform another job, your disability claim may be denied.
Meeting the SSA’s Eligibility Requirements for a Disability Listing for Neck Problems
While there are other ways to qualify for SSDI with a neck injury, the Social Security disability listing for musculoskeletal disorders directly addresses one of the primary causes of neck problems. In April of 2021, the Social Security Administration updated its spinal listing. There is only one spinal listing that would qualify you for disability benefits due to neck pain and problems – the Blue Book has “compromise of a nerve root” under Listing 1.15.
If you can demonstrate that you meet all the requirements of the listing because of a cervical spine, you will increase your chances of being approved for benefits. Our experienced Bella Vista Social Security Disability lawyers will help you collect your medical evidence to determine if you meet the listed requirements.
Compromised Nerve Roots.
A compromised nerve root occurs because of a cervical bone spur, arthritis of the facet joint, or a herniated disc. If you suffer from this condition, you might experience numbness or pain in the shoulder, neck, arm, or hands. Known as cervical radiculopathy, this condition could limit the use of your hands and fingers, making it difficult or impossible to grip objects, write, or type.
To qualify for disability benefits under this listing, you must show that you have been diagnosed with a compressed nerve root. Typically, you will have to demonstrate that you are suffering from radiating pain or muscle fatigue. Additionally, you will have to show that you cannot use your hands for fine motor tasks. Our Bentonville Social Security Disability lawyers will review the exact listing criteria with you.
Causes of Neck Pain That Could Qualify for Disability in Arkansas
Several incidents could result in a qualifying neck injury. If you suffer from one of the common conditions listed below, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
Whiplash is a common injury in a motor vehicle accident. If your neck or head suddenly snaps back and forth or forcibly changes direction, it could seriously damage your neck and spinal cord.
Degenerative Disc Disease
If you suffer from a degenerative disc, you will probably experience severe pain daily. Everyday activities could become impossible without pain and discomfort due to the shrinking of your vertebral discs.
Another common injury sustained in car accidents or other events that place stress on an individual’s spine is a herniated disc. This condition could also result from abnormal wear and tear on the spine. A herniated disc is very painful and could prevent you from working.
People who have a pinched nerve will often experience numbness or radiating pain. This condition could make it difficult or impossible to perform the duties related to your job. Pinched nerves could be caused by simply moving in the wrong direction or lifting something incorrectly.
Spinal stenosis occurs when an individual experiences a narrowing of the spine. This condition could cause someone to feel numbness or pain in their shoulders, arms, or neck. Depending on the severity of the condition, the loss of sensation or pain could make it impossible to carry out your job duties.
Certain infections, such as meningitis, could cause an individual to suffer severe neck and back pain. Even if treated, a serious infection could limit your ability to work.
Medical Documentation and Other Evidence to Support Your Neck Disability Claim in Arkansas
Disability benefits claims for neck injures are often denied by the SSA because the claimant failed to provide sufficient medical documentation or other evidence to support their allegations that the neck pain limited their ability to work. An application should include extensive medical evidence to support your claim. Having our Rogers Social Security Disability lawyers assist in preparing your application will help increase the chances of having enough supporting evidence. Below is a list of some of the medical documentation the SSA could require.
- Medical imaging test results, including CT-Scans, MRIs, and X-rays, that document the causes and symptoms of your neck injury.
- Evidence of medical treatment to mitigate the pain, including epidurals, trigger point injections, and nerve blocks.
- Records of other treatments, including any prescribed medication or physical therapy, used to help your condition.
- Notes from your medical examinations.
- Statements from your treating doctor or other specialists detailing your treatment and medical condition. Any statement from a physician must describe how your condition limits your ability to perform common tasks.
- Documentation to show that, despite the following the prescribed treatment, your condition has not improved.
Your treating physician plays a vital role in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. It is crucial for the evidence provided to be clear and extensive. If the medical documentation included with your application is not persuasive, your claim will likely be denied. Our Arkansas Social Security lawyers have been working closely with doctors and specialists for over two decades. While this does not guarantee your application will be approved, our seasoned attorneys know the type of evidence the SSA requires.
Do I Need a Lawyer for my Disability Case?
Your SSDI claim requires understanding how the process works. SSDI claims can be complicated and confusing, especially to those who have never been part of such a process. A disability attorney can guide you through the steps and requirements. Our skilled, dedicated Fayetteville personal injury lawyers or disability lawyers can also help you improve your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve.
No matter what specific disorder is causing your neck pain, if you cannot work because of your medical condition, our office will fight to get you the disability benefits you deserve. Our goal is to gather the necessary medical evidence and documentation to help demonstrate that your condition meets the SSA’s listing requirements.
Hiring a disability lawyer can be helpful in the event that your SSDI claim gets denied. In other words, your attorney can guide you and represent your interests in a denied disability claim appeals process.
Our Experienced Disability Attorneys for Neck Injuries Offer Free Consultations in Arkansas
If you or a loved one got injured and cannot return to work, we may be able to help. We understand how difficult dealing with an injury can be. The lawyers and staff at GKD Law, LLP also understand the burden it can place on your shoulders if you are the sole provider for your family. In such a situation, it is easy to lose hope and feel stressed. However, you can obtain financial aid while you get back on your feet. Our Springdale Social Security Disability attorneys can help you get your benefits following a debilitating neck injury. To find out more or to schedule a free and private consultation, call our law offices at (479) 316-0438.