Back injuries are some of the leading causes of disability in the American workforce, and many people who receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits do so as a result of back disabilities. Surgery can be an effective way to alleviate pain or aid in a partial or complete recovery. But just because surgery is an option, do you have to pursue it? People are often worried that a judge will deny their disability claim if they decide against surgery.
One of the benefits to having separate judges hear SSDI claims is that they usually are very familiar with back injuries. They know that treatment for back injuries usually starts with physical therapy, pain medication, and muscle relaxers. Injections are frequently the next step, and surgery is usually the last resort for treating back pain.
SSDI laws clearly state that judges are not supposed to punish you for not pursuing surgery, nor are they allowed to deny your claim for that reason. Surgery costs a great deal of money, and you should not be forced to undergo it if you cannot pay for the operation or the post-surgery rehabilitation. Surgery may be risky in your case, and you should not have to assume that risk just because it’s an option on the table.
Be prepared to explain to the judge your rationale for why you decided against surgery. He or she wants to know that you weighed all the options thoroughly and picked the one that is best for you. After all, surgery is a major life decision—it would be a very different situation if you knew you couldn’t see but refused to wear glasses.