Neck Pain and Social Security Disability 

Jul 17

There are many causes of chronic neck pain that may impact an individual’s ability to work.  Some causes of chronic neck pain are:  degenerative disc disease (damage to one or more vertebral discs), herniated disc (problem with one of the cushions (discs) between the individual vertebras that stack up to make the spinal column), stenosis (narrowing of a root canal), cervical myelopathy, nerve root impingement (one or more of the nerve roots contacting another part of the vertebrae) and failed neck surgery.

SSA recognizes that an individual may be entitled to social security disability benefits based on a severe neck impairment.  SSA has special rules that SSA uses to evaluate a neck impairment.  For example, if SSA determines that an individual’s neck impairment meets or equals one of the Listing criteria found in Section 1.00 of SSA’s special rules, SSA should award benefits.  Under some circumstances, an individual’s neck impairment may satisfy SSA’s special Medical-Vocational Guideline Rules under Step 4 and Step 5 of SSA’s 5-Step Sequential Evaluation process warranting an award of benefits.

To improve an individual’s chances of winning disability benefits because of a severe neck impairment, the neck impairment should be well documented with objective medical findings and treatment records should show that there has been no improvement despite appropriate treatment with specialist(s).  An individual seeking disability benefits because of a neck impairment should speak with a representative or attorney who has represented individuals before SSA who cannot work because of a neck impairment.