Radiculopathy or radiculitis is any disease of the spinal nerve roots or cord, whose typical symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. When the evidence shows that a spinal condition is causing radicular symptoms a disability claim is usually approved.
When applying for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, if a claimant’s spine condition compromises the nerve roots or spinal cord, resulting in pain, range of motion and motor strength loss, and either reflex or sensory loss, then a claimant should be found presumptively disabled under listing 1.04, making the claimant’s functionality irrelevant. Usually, a treating doctor’s opinion that a claimant meets listing 1.04 is needed to have an SSD application approved at first instance. However, there are exceptions when the evidence is crystal clear.
I represent a 56 year old former appliance repairman whose SSD application was approved shortly after I submitted the claimant’s neck and back MRI reports. I had made sure to submit treatment records that had described various spinal impairments and radicular symptoms that met listing 1.04, yet the claim sat for several months. Then, just a couple of weeks after I submitted the MRI reports, which undeniably revealed spinal conditions that impinged and flattened the nerve roots and spinal cord, the SSD application was approved.
Even though a treating doctor’s listing 1.04 opinion was not submitted, medical records were submitted that clearly evinced all of the criteria of the listing. The claimant was not asked to be examined by a Social Security doctor, which is how Social Security normally assesses a claimant’s functionality. Therefore, it appears that listing 1.04 was found to apply. By understanding what information regarding the claimant’s spine conditions should be submitted it greatly expedited the claimant's receipt of SSD benefits.