Back Pain Persists; Benefits Awarded

 

Laura Hill, a 38-year-old divorced woman with three children, was giving product demonstrations in a supermarket when she injured her back lifting. She was diagnosed with a herniated disk in her lower spine at L5-S1 and degenerative disk disease. She tried to return to work several months later but was only able to work for a few months. She was suffering lower back pain that radiated down her left leg, and her back mobility was severely restricted.

At age 44, in addition to the L5-S1 herniated disk, Hill was diagnosed with compression of the right S1 nerve root. She underwent spinal surgery, an L5-S1 microdiskectomy. She got no relief or recovery from the surgery. Several months later, Hill underwent a second surgery, an L5-S1 fusion with a cage. She continued to have lower back pain that radiated down both legs.

Hill had been receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but they were running out. She applied for Social Security Disability benefits but was denied at application. Hill turned to Attorney Neil H. Good for representation. Her case went to a hearing before the Social Security Administration.

In his prehearing memorandum, Attorney Good discussed all of Hill’s medical issues, including the injury, the two failed surgeries and her continuing treatment. Hill, who was by then 49, had undergone three epidurals in the past year in an attempt to relieve her lower back pain. Hill had also been in a car accident a few months prior, which resulted in neck and shoulder injuries. An MRI at that time showed degenerative disease of her cervical spine, bilateral foraminal stenosis, bone spurs on C5-6 and arthritic changes.

The Administrative Law Judge noted that Hill “avoided surgery as long as possible but she eventually required two surgeries.” The judge further noted her recent epidural injections and pain medication. Laura Hill was granted Social Security Disability benefits.