This post discusses Arachnoiditis and Social Security Disability. If you or someone you care for is suffering from Arachnoiditis read on for how the SSA will evaluate your claim for disability.

When the arachnoid, a membrane that protects the nerves of the spinal cord, becomes inflamed the result is severe stinging, burning pain and neurological issues (Via WebMD). The arachnoid mater has a spider-web appearance (hence its name) that connects the dura mater and pia mater. Arachnoid, dura and pia are all meninges whose primary function is to protect and support the central nervous system (via ThoughtCo).

When the meninges are compromised, the central nervous system is exposed. This results in inflammation. Arachnoiditis can be caused by spinal injury, chemicals, infections, chronic compression of spinal nerves or complications from invasive surgeries. There is also concern that epidural steroid injections contain chemicals that may cause Arachnoiditis (Via WebMD).

There are different types of Arachnoiditis: adhesive arachnoiditis (AA), arachnoiditis ossificans, cerebral arachnoiditis, hereditary arachnoiditis, neoplastic arachnoiditis, optochiasmatic arachnoiditis, postmyelographic arachnoiditis and rhinosinusogenic cerebral arachnoiditis.

Adhesive Arachnoiditis cases were first seen 20-30 years ago when pantopaque dye was first used for myelograms. But with the introduction of the MRI, new cases of AA decreased. Unfortunately, with the use of epidural corticosteroid steroid injections, new diagnoses of AA continue. Arachnoiditis is known to clinicians as one of the worst pain conditions (Via Practical Pain Management).

Arachnoiditis and Social Security Disability

There are three ways to attain Social Security Disability based on Arachnoiditis: The SSA Listings, the Grid Rules and on a combination of your impairments.

Please note that as of April 2, 2021, Listing 1.04 no longer exists and has been replaced with the Listings found here: After we receive additional guidance from SSA we will alter this post to accommodate for the new listing. 

SSA listing 1.04, Disorders of the Spine, requires: confirmation of arachnoiditis by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours.

The Grids can help if you are 50 or older and have difficulty standing, sitting or walking due to pain. And lastly, if you have complications or additional impairments, all your symptoms will be evaluated to determine, based on the combination, that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.

In my practice, I have only seen one or two individuals with arachnoiditis. In those cases, the arachnoiditis arose from chronic compression of the spinal nerves. Clients describe extreme (electric shock type) pain that is almost impossible to endure. Even if you do not meet Listing 1.04, you should still apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as possible. Also, AA is a rare disorder, and it would help your case immensely to obtain an opinion from your doctor explaining how AA is affecting you.

If you have been assessed with Arachnoiditis and are unable to work, The Bishop Law Firm represents disability clients in Raleigh, NC and surrounding areas. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.