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Serious Back Injury: Can I Get Social Security Disability in Virginia?

A back injury can result in a serious impairment. However, it is not necessarily "disabling." Social Security has a strict set of guidelines regarding back injuries. Social Security will consider your remaining functional capacity for work after your injury.

1. Your "age" can be a very important factor. If you are under age 50 and can still do some form of work such as clerical work then your back injury will probably not entitle you to benefits.

2. Your "age" can work in your favor. If you are over 55 with only a high school education and a past history of manual labor, then you would have a very good case for disability if your back injury now prevents you from doing manual labor.

3. Your "past work experience" is an important factor. As noted above, a past history of only manual labor can make your case for disability much easier.

4. Conversely, a past history of only "clerical work" may mean you can easily return to that type of work despite your back injury.

5. The "skill level" of your past work is also important. As a general rule the more skills you possess the more difficult it is going to be to obtain disability benefits. This is so because a skilled worker can transfer his/her skills to many different occupations many of which may be light enough to do even after a serious back injury.

6. Conversely, if you have "no skills" or have only done "unskilled" work then it will be easier to prove a case for disability.

7. Your "educational level" is also important. As a general rule the more education you have the harder it is going to be to win your disability case.

8. When it comes to a back injury, a "doctor's opinion" from a an orthopaedist, a pain management doctor, or a rehabilitation doctor regarding one ‘s functional abilities can be decisive in a disability case. But a simple statement that one is "disabled" is not enough. It is better if the physician prepares a comprehensive statement describing how one’s abilities to lift, walk, sit, etc. are compromised by the patient’ back injury. In my cases I almost always have a Lumbar Spine Functional Evaluation completed by the treating back specialist or if one is not available then the claimant's primary treating physician.

9. The back injury listing can be found at Section 1.00 of Social Security’s Schedule of Muscoloskeletal Impairments. If a back injury specialist says your impairment meets or equals one of these back stings then your case for disability will be very strong.

10. If you are denied on your initial application, you should consult an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability. You can review my other article on How to Find the Best Virginia Social Disability Lawyer for some tips on finding an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.

This may be considered AN ADVERTISEMENT or Advertising Material under the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers in Virginia. This note is designed for general information only. The information presented in this note should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Jerry Lutkenhaus is a practitioner of Social Security Disability law in the Richmond, Virginia area for over 30 years. He was given an "AV" rating by Martindale Hubbell in 2003. Lexis Nexis listed him in the 2005 Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys. For more information, see http://www.geraldlutkenhaus.com and http://www.virginiadisabilitylawyer.com You can call Jerry Lutkenhaus now at 804-358-4766 for a free consultation about your disability case.

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