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Common impairments: Obtaining North Carolina Social Security disability benefits for lower back pain

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Our North Carolina Social Security disability lawyer can represent you from start to finish. Call Bridgman Law Offices at (704) 815-6055 today.

Many of our North Carolina Social Security disability clients suffer from persistent and debilitating lower back pain. Unfortunately, despite the disabling impact of this pain, it can be difficult to obtain Social Security disability benefits on this basis.

If you do not have a disorder of the spine that meets a Social Security Administration listing (rendering you “disabled” under the law), then your case will depend on an evaluation of your “residual functional capacity.” That is, the Social Security Administration will evaluate what you are capable of doing, despite the limitations caused by your impairment. In making this evaluation, the Social Security decision-maker will rely on objective medical evidence (primarily, medical imaging) and subjective evidence (primarily, your testimony).

Medical imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, is a common means of diagnosing lower back problems. While these images are useful in identifying a degenerative abnormality, they are not particularly helpful in assessing the level of pain associated with that abnormality. Moreover, CT scans and MRI scans are expensive and are not always available; an X-ray, although more readily available, can show bony abnormalities, but is not useful for identifying soft-tissue abnormalities.

Since it is difficult to meet the listing for a spinal disorder, and the objective medical evidence of back pain often is insufficient, the success of your North Carolina disability benefits claim likely will depend on your testimony at a hearing before an administrative law judge. To be persuasive, you must tell the judge how your back pain limits your ability to function on a daily basis; the more details and personal anecdotes you provide, the more compelling your testimony will be. The Social Security decision-maker also will evaluate your credibility; that is, have your complaints about your back pain been consistent and, if not, can any inconsistencies be explained by changes in your symptoms over time?

If you suffer from back pain, and you are thinking about applying for North Carolina Social Security disability benefits, or have been denied benefits, we may be able to help. If you would like to talk with an experienced North Carolina Social Security disability lawyer, please contact us.

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