Disability Benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

About Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) also known as Degenerative Disc Disorder describes the condition in which an individual’s spinal discs that separate the interlocking vertebrae deteriorate causing the nerve openings in the spine to become narrower. This typically results in pain and discomfort as well as other musculoskeletal complications.

DDD is not actually a disease and is a natural occurrence of age. However, it can also stem from a previous back injury or from repetitive strenuous activities (such as manual labor). For most people, DDD is not an issue and is barely noticeable while for others DDD can cause severe pain and manifest other severe impairments such as osteoarthritis.

Qualifying with Degenerative Disc Disease

Whenever someone files a claim for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess the applicant’s disabling condition and will compared it to their guide known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a manual that lists the symptoms or evidence needed for a certain impairment to qualify for disability benefits. For example, an applicant applying for schizophrenia would be evaluated under section 12.03 Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders of the SSA’s Blue Book.

All disabling conditions of the spine including DDD are evaluated under 1.04 Disorders of the spine in the musculoskeletal system section. Other conditions that DDD may manifest such as osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis will be evaluated under the relevant listings of the affected part of the body.

1.04 Disorders of the spine

A compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord as well as one of the following requirements:

A.) Documentation of nerve root compression distinguished by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss associated with sensory or reflex loss and, if the lower back is involved, positive straight-leg raising test


B.) Spinal arachnoiditis verified by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy apparent through severe burning or painful dysesthesia resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours


C.) Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication established by proper medical imaging, apparent through chronic non-radicular pain and weakness and resulting in inability to move around effectively


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