Disability Benefits for a Spinal Cord Injury

About Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury involves damage inflicted upon any part of the spinal cord such as vertebrae, nerves, or tissues. The damage can cause serious complications; some of which can be permanent depending on the extent of the damage. Some individuals may experience some loss of mobility or sensation while others may become permanently paralyzed from the point of injury down.

Currently, there is no method or treatment available to completely cure a severe spinal cord injury. However, with the proper rehabilitation, some individuals may be able to recover some level of functioning.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury

There are two types of spinal cord injuries that differ in severity.

Complete – The individual has completely lost all feeling and movement below the point of injury.

Incomplete – The individual still has some level of functioning below the point of injury.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

The symptoms of spinal cord injuries vary depending on the part and severity of the spine that have been damaged. An individual may experience one or more of the following:

  • Loss of mobility
  • Loss of sensation
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of sexual functioning
  • Severe pain
  • Respiratory problems

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury can result from several causes. The most common reason is due to direct physical impacts to the spine, which can happen in car accidents, sport accidents, gun shootings, physical beatings, etc. Heavy blows to the spine can fracture, crush, compress, or dislocate the vertebrae, resulting in potential damage to the nerves and tissues. When nerves become damaged, the brain can no longer properly send messages through the injured nerves causing partial or complete loss of function below that point.

Spinal cord injuries may also arise from other conditions or diseases such as cancer, arthritis, infections or spina bifida.

Qualify for Disability with a Spinal Cord Injury

When an applicant applies for disability benefits for a spinal cord injury, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will first evaluate if the impairment meets or equals a listing in the Blue Book. The listing typically used to evaluate a spinal cord injury is 1.04 Disorders of the Spine. If an applicant’s spinal cord injury does not meet the listing below and prevents him or her from working, he or she may become approved through the medical vocational allowance

1.04 Disorders of the Spine

Impairment resulting in compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord as well as one of the following:

A.) Evidence of nerve root compression distinguished by

  • Neuro-anatomic distribution of pain,
  • Motor loss as well as sensory or reflex loss
  • Limitation of motion of the spine

If the lower back is involved, results from a positive-leg raising test.


B.) Spinal arachnoiditis manifested by serious burning or painful dysesthesia forcing the individual to change positions or posture more than once every 2 hours


C.) Lumber spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, causing in the inability to walk and move around effectively


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Board Certified in Social Security Disability by the NBTA. Licensed in both Florida and Massachusetts. Accredited Veterans’ disability attorney.


Board Certified in Social Security Disability by the NBTA. Licensed in both Florida and Michigan. NOSSCR Board of Directors Member.


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