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Discs act as cushions between the bones of the spine. Discs are made up of a harder outer layer and a softer inner layer. Sometimes the hard outer layer cracks and the softer inner layer protrudes. This is called a herniated disc.
Total and Permanent Disability
Whether or not a herniated disc is considered a total and permanent disability depends on the severity of the symptoms. A disability does not have to be total or permanent in order for a person to qualify for Social Security disability, though, or for a person to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How Disabling Is It?
Symptoms of a herniated disc vary from person to person. Some people experience mild back pain. Others experience severe pain, numbness or tingling in the legs, and difficulty walking or standing. Rarely, people experience a loss of bladder or bowel control.
Is It a Permanent Disability?
A herniated disc is not normally a permanent disability. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms resolve in 80 to 90 percent of patients in a month or two even without aggressive treatment. In severe cases, though, permanent nerve damage may result.
If your herniated disc causes symptoms severe enough to prevent you from working for at least one year, you can apply for disability from Social Security. Talk to your doctor about whether or not your condition meets these criteria.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. For instance, if your herniated disc makes standing difficult, your employer must allow you to work sitting down if it is possible to perform your job that way.