Bulging Disc Disability Lawyer in New York

Back pain can be one of the most disabling impairments because there often seems to be no relief. If your back pain is severe enough, you may qualify to receive monthly Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. In this blog post, we’ll explain how a bulging disc differs from a herniated disc or a ruptured disc and describe how bulging disc pain and numbness can be the basis of a successful SSD benefits application.

New York’s Social Security Disability lawyer, Attorney Daniel Berger, started NYDisability.com to let more people learn about his team of disability law experts who help disabled people get the SSD and SSI disability benefits they deserve. So many people live with terrible back pain but they don’t file for federal disability benefits payments because they don’t know they can qualify. Contact the Disability Law Office of Daniel Berger and nydisability.com today at the telephone number below or email us at [email protected] to learn how you can be eligible to receive your SSD or SSI monthly benefits.

What Is a Bulging Disc?

People sometimes get confused about the difference between a bulging disc, a herniated disc, and a ruptured disc.

First, you need to understand that a vertebral disc is a sac inside which a gel-like cartilage material is surrounded by a hard cartilage shell. These discs are located between the bones that together are your backbone. The discs act like cushions between the vertebrae, so your spine moves and flexes. Some doctors describe them as being built sort of like a small jelly donut sitting between your vertebrae. They are more appropriately called “intervertebral discs.”

A bulging disc occurs when the tough outer cartilage shell weakens and the pressure from the softer inner material pushes the outer shell farther than usual. The tough outside cartilage begins to bulge. Sometimes those bulges cause no problems and no pain. But if the bulge presses against a nerve in your spine, the pain can be very severe, and numbness and weakness may be felt in your limbs.

A herniated disc is similar to a building disc, but the tough outer cartilage shell develops a crack, letting some of the inner gel-like material seep out. Herniated discs often protrude out farther than a bulging disc and are more likely to come into contact with extremely sensitive nerves. Pain from a herniated disc can be worse than some bulging discs because the disc presses more on the nerve, or because the material seeping out from the disc irritates and causes inflammation of the nerve.

There is not real difference between a herniated disc and a ruptured disc. The disc does not usually rupture, but some herniations can result in the internal gel-like material being pushed out of the disc more forcefully causing more acute severe pain and inflammation.

How You Qualify for Disability Benefits for Herniated or Bulging Discs

Eligibility for SSD benefits always requires that an applicant’s disability meet the universally applied criteria that defines a “disability” under the rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration defines a qualifying disability as “a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last at least 12 months (or lead to death), and which prevents the applicant from performing substantial gainful activities. In 2022, substantial gainful activities means earning more than $1,350 in a month.

Length of Disability — Different people’s back injuries reach varying degrees of severity. The cause of back pain also differs in every person’s case. Given these variations, any back injury or degenerative condition must last or be expected to last 12 months to qualify the sufferer for SSD benefit payments.

The nature of bulging discs and herniated discs permits many of them to be treated successfully either by anti-inflammatory steroids, physical therapy, or surgical intervention. Consequently, if someone suffers terrible pain from a bulging disc or a herniated disc for three or four or seven months before they recover sufficiently to return to work, they will not qualify to collect SSD benefits.

While a bulging disc can be the source of chronic pain, many bulging and herniated discs can be successfully treated through spinal fusion, laminectomy, or discectomy. Generally, the SSA considers sufficient time to recover from back surgery to be between 90 and 120 days.

However, any case in which a bulging or herniated disc result in chronic back pain, with the accompanying shooting pains, tingling, and weakness in the arm or leg, may very well mean the SSD applicant will be awarded SSD benefits. If the symptoms continue without significant improvement and the impairment persists for 12 months and remains severe enough to prevent the claimant from earning at least $1,350 per month, then all required criteria to collect SSD are satisfied.

Bulging or Herniated Discs with Other Impairments

People often suffer more than a single impairment. It is not unusual for a the intense pain from a bulging herniated disc will coincide with a serious and persistent depressive disorder, or other musculoskeletal problems that together add up to a long-term, permanent disability qualifying for SSD benefits.

  • Classify your past work
  • Determine the physical and mental demands of your past work,
  • Decide if you can go back to a past job, and
  • Whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work. Many herniated or bulging discs either resolve themselves within a year or are repaired and fixed by surgery (spinal fusion, laminectomy, or discectomy), so this requirement can be tough to meet. (Social Security generally allots 90 to 120 days for recovery from back surgery in most cases, except for unusual situations.)

Second, Social Security requires either that your back injury is so severe that you meet the requirements of its disability “listing” on spinal disorders or that, because of your age, education, and prior job skills combined with your functional limitations, you can’t be expected to do your prior work, or any job.