This is easily the most common condition affecting the most clients we have ever represented. It usually occurs in the lower back (aka lumbar spine) and progressively worsens with age. That outcome is reasonable given that the lower back endures the most of the strain of life. The entire weight of your upper body is supported by the lumbar spine. The weight of all objects you will ever lift travels down through the lumbar spine and is distributed 50-50 through your legs. 

The more your lumbar spine wears out, the shorter time/distance you can walk, the less you can lift/carry, and the less you can do basic work activities. Medications may dull the pain, but not completely vanquish it. The quality and duration of your sleep may be affected by back pain.

Whether your back pain came about through injury or by gradual aging, it certainly helped contribute to why you stopped working. 

Regardless of the diagnosis causing your back pain, a strong case involving this medical condition typically charts the following course:

  • Referrals: Establish care with an orthopedic specialist and a pain management specialist. Your primary care physician can refer you to one.
  • Symptoms: Tell all your providers what you cannot do in your everyday life with your hand(s) because of this problem.
  • Compliance: Take your pain medications every day. Find a system to make this work for you. (If the SSA sees any signs of non-compliance in your medical records, then they will severely discount the severity of this condition.)
  • Escalate your Treatment: Ask your doctor about these procedures:
    • X-ray, MRI or CT-scan. The MRI or CT-scan could be more expensive, but they are more precise imaging that will show more about what’s causing your pain than just an x-ray.
    • Physical therapy. Go to all the sessions if you get one—do not miss those sessions or quit, even if you feel like physical therapy is not working for you.
    • Trigger point injections or epidural steroid injections.
      • The Doctor will ask about how much relief this provided. Emphasize what you are still unable to do, not just how much relief you felt.
    • Discuss surgical options. Whether or not you get surgery is your choice. Obviously going through with it will make a strong impression on your judge about how severe this problem is for you. But even the doctor writing down in the medical records that he/she recommended the surgery will create a strong impression too.
  • Medical Opinion: Ask your doctor to complete the Treating Source Statement (Packard Law Firm provides this).

Durable Medical Equipment: If you are having problems with walking around, then ask your provider to prescribe a cane or walker. Take it with you to every appointment–do not leave it in the car or at home.

Written By: Jacob Hugentobler, Hearing Attorney

Image Credit: Shantirehab, February 11, 2023, available at: