Disability Benefits for Spinal Arachnoiditis

About Spinal Arachnoiditis

Spinal arachnoiditis (also known as just arachnoiditis) is an inflammatory condition where the arachnoid, a membrane that protects the nerves of the spinal cord, becomes inflamed. The inflammation is typically caused by spinal injuries, spinal surgery, chemical irritation, infections, and compression of spinal nerves. In many cases, other spinal disorders such as degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, and nerve root compression may influence the development of arachnoiditis. Currently there is no cure to the condition but arachnoiditis can be manageable with the proper medication and physical therapy.

Symptoms of Arachnoiditis

Arachnoiditis has several debilitating symptoms that can vary significantly between individuals. The symptoms tend to get worse as time progresses and treatment can only really alleviate pain and some of the symptoms. Symptoms of arachnoiditis include but are not limited to:

  • Severe pain (including neuralgia as well as burning and stinging
  • Sudden sharp pain (often described as a quick electrical shock)
  • Bladder and bowel issues
  • Uncontrollable twitching
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Difficulty with sexual functioning

Qualifying with Arachnoiditis

An applicant with arachnoiditis needs to satisfy the three requirements listed within the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book. The listing 1.04 Disorders of the Spine Requirement B describes what is needed.

1.04 Disorders of the spine

An applicant with spinal arachnoiditis must have a compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord with:

  • Verification of the arachnoiditis by appropriate medically acceptable imaging or, an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy
  • Severe dysesthesia as well as painful tingling or burning sensations
  • The need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Form

Applicants who have spinal arachnoiditis but don’t precisely meet the listing in the Blue Book can still qualify for disability benefits if their symptoms from arachnoiditis prevent them from engaging in employment. The SSA uses a type of form known as a residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine an applicant’s work capabilities despite his or her condition. There are two versions of the form; one is for physical disabling conditions while the other is for mental disabling conditions. An applicant filing for arachnoiditis that doesn’t meet a listing should have his or her treating doctor fill out a physical RFC before he or she initially applies for disability benefits. This will significantly improve an applicant’s chances for approval at the initial and reconsideration stages.


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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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