Although many disabilities are permanent, some treatments can alleviate your condition to the point that you might be able to work again. Sometimes, a treatment might carry with it the possibility of improving your condition, but the risks are just too great to consider it, or you are not comfortable with the process required.
For sufferers of chronic back pain, the decision to undergo back surgery is often a tricky one. Many doctors only recommend surgery as a last resort; they will frequently try physical therapy, pain medications, and muscle relaxants before suggesting invasive surgery.
Since back injuries are one of the most common underlying conditions for people who file Social Security Disability (SSD) claims, administrative law judges are very familiar with thoracic, lumbar, and cervical spinal injuries and treatments.
Will a judge deny your claim if your doctor recommends surgery, and you decide not to undergo it? No. A judge cannot deny your claim just because you refuse surgery. Perhaps you cannot afford the surgery or the rehabilitation after it—you cannot be punished because you could not afford treatment or because the risks and/or complications of surgery were too great for you to agree to it.
That being said, be prepared to explain to the judge your solid reasons for refusing surgery. Your honesty will go a long way toward being understood by the judge and give merit to your claim, so long as you can establish that you have thought through your options, and you’ve decided to go in another direction for pain management and treatment.