Disability Benefits for Scoliosis

About Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a spinal disorder where the spine curves sideways. Normally, the spine should be straight and follow a vertical line from top to bottom when viewed from the front or back. When you view an individual with severe scoliosis from the front or back, the spine visibly curves in one direction.

Scoliosis is a common condition in children that can progress in severity during natural growth periods. Generally most scoliosis cases are mild and require little to no treatment. However, there are severe cases in which serious complications may arise and surgery might be required.

Symptoms and Signs of Scoliosis

The first signs of scoliosis tend to surface during a child’s development stages and may progress throughout their teenage years. Mild curves can be hard to detect in children because there is usually no pain associated with the curve and physical signs aren’t severe enough to be noticeable without x-ray results. In several instances, schoolteachers or sports coaches may notice some of the first signs of scoliosis.

The symptoms of scoliosis vary depending on the severity of the curvature. In serious cases, the curved spine may interfere with other body systems or organs such as the lungs, resulting in respiratory complications. Here are some common symptoms of scoliosis:

  • Pain throughout the back, neck and shoulders
  • Limited mobility
  • Respiratory problems
  • Restricted bowel movement
  • Uneven shoulders, hips, legs or arms

Types and Causes of Scoliosis

There are four different types of scoliosis and each one is categorized based on the cause of the condition.

Idiopathic Scoliosis – this is the most common type of scoliosis. There is no known distinct cause for this type of scoliosis, but many medical professionals speculate it might be genetic.

Congenital Scoliosis – This type of scoliosis is present at birth regardless of cause and is rather rare (only affects 0.0001% of the population). Spinal surgery is typically required to correct the spine.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis – scoliosis caused by weakening of the spinal muscles. Individuals with neuromuscular impairments such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida are very susceptible to this type of scoliosis.

Degenerative Scoliosis – scoliosis that resulted from spinal degeneration caused by a traumatic injury, failed surgery, or another condition such as osteoporosis.

Qualifying for Disability for Scoliosis

The Disability Evaluation Under Social Security (also referred to as the Blue Book) is a manual created by the Social Security Administration that lists the requirements for certain disabling conditions to qualify for disability benefits. The Blue Book is quite extensive but cannot possibly contain a listing for every condition. In several instances, the Blue Book will evaluate a condition based on the requirements of a similar listing.

This is the case for scoliosis. While it does not have its own listing, 1.00L Abnormal Curvatures of the Spine states if abnormal curvature of the spine causes impaired ambulation, listing 14.09A will be used to evaluate the condition. If abnormal curvature causes symptoms of fixation (stiffness and immobility) within the cervical spine or dorsolumbar, listing 14.09C will be used.

14.09A – Continuous deformity or inflammation of:

1.) At least one major weight bearing joint leading to impaired ambulation; or

2.) At least one major joint in both upper limbs (entire arm including the shoulder) leading to impaired fine and gross movements

14.09C – Any joint disease of the vertebral column with:

1.) Fixation of the cervical spine or dorsolumbar with documentation showing flexion of 45 degrees or more; or

2.) Fixation of the cervical spine or dorsolumbar with documentation showing flexion of 30 degrees or more as well as involvement of at least two body systems or organs with one of them affected at a moderate level of severity or higher.


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