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

What is Arachnoiditis?

When the arachnoid, a membrane that protects the nerves of the spinal cord, becomes inflamed it causes 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 cord injury, chemicals, infections, chronic compression of spinal nerves or complications from invasive surgeries. Furthermore, there is 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 ).

Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration offers two types of benefits to those who are found disabled, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on the credits from the work that you have done in your life, while SSI is a need based program.

The first step is to apply for benefits online, by phone or at your local SSA office. After you apply for benefits, your case will be sent to your local equivalent of Disability Determination Services (DDS) (different states have different names for DDS). DDS will gather your records and ask you to fill out various forms. Your case will be evaluated under SSA’s Five Step Sequential Evaluation by a disability examiner. For more on the process read Social Security Disability .

Spinal 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. 

Social Security evaluates spinal nerve disorders that originate in the nervous system (spinal arachnoiditis), under the neurological disorders body system, 11.00. These listings require medical records showing objective (MRI, myelogram, blood work showing elevated inflammation markers, physical exam findings, etc.) and subjective (your symptoms, response to treatment) proof your arachnoiditis. In addition to proving that you have arachnoiditis, you also have to meet 11.08 to be found disabled under the listings. 

Listing 11.08, Spinal Cord Disorders , requires complete loss of function or extreme disorganization of motor function in two extremities or a combination of marked physical and mental dysfunction. This listing, like most listings, is extremely difficult to meet. You will be unable to work long before you meet the listing due to pain and loss of function.

The Medical Vocational Guidelines (The Grids) may 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.

You may also be found disabled based on the combination of your impairments. In addition to arachnoiditis, you may have syringomyelia, degenerative disc disease or other medical conditions. If the symptoms from all your impairments prevent you from working, SSA may consider you disabled. However, you must have medical evidence to support your Social Security Disability claim.

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 (spinal stenosis). These clients described extreme (electric shock type) pain that was almost impossible to endure. Even if you do not meet Listing 11.08, 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 and your ability to work. 

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 or start your free case review now!