Having a condition that causes pain and a loss of mobility can really put a strain on your ability to perform everyday tasks. It may even result in an individual being unable to financially provide for themselves. However, the UK government offers various benefits to those who cannot work due to a disability or long-term condition.
The guidance on what makes you eligible to claim these payments is not vastly clear. In many cases, you’ll need to be assessed according to several factors before you are able to receive any money. For some people, the results of this assessment mean that they are not eligible. But what about those that are suffering from spondylosis?
Getting disability benefits for spondylosis is a bit of a grey area. Some people may qualify due to a lack of ability to perform everyday tasks owing to their condition, while others may not be adversely impacted and therefore will not be able to make a claim.
This guide provides you with information regarding making a claim for disability benefits if you have spondylosis and what to expect.
What Is Spondylosis?
Spondylosis is a term that is used to refer to pain caused by any form of degeneration to the spine. However, it’s important to keep in mind that spondylosis is not the same as spondylitis which is a form of inflammatory arthritis. That said, some people will use the term spondylosis to describe osteoarthritis, but this is inaccurate.
Spondylosis may affect any part of the spine. When it affects the neck, this is known as cervical spondylosis whereas in the lower back, it’s called lumbar spondylosis. For those whose spines are affected in the mid or upper back, the correct term is thoracic spondylosis. However, it is possible to suffer from multilevel spondylosis where all parts of the vertebrae are affected.
What causes spondylosis is wear and tear on the spinal discs. As this happens, it can cause osteoarthritis but, as I mentioned earlier, spondylosis and osteoarthritis are not one of the same, rather one can cause the other.
Spondylosis is a very common condition. In fact, as many as 85% of all adults over 60 will experience it to some degree. In most cases, the symptoms are not life-altering although there are cases where narrowing of the space between the discs can occur.
What Are The Main Symptoms Of Spondylosis?
The main symptoms of spondylosis include stiffness and pain in the neck and back, depending on the type of spondylosis that you have. However, should the condition get worse and compression or narrowing should occur then the symptoms can become more severe.
These may include headaches, muscle spasms, a lack of bowel and bladder control, weakness or tingling in the arms, legs and extremities, and problems with coordination and mobility.
How Does The UK Government Define A Disability?
The UK government runs various benefits schemes to help the more vulnerable members of the community financially. This is because having a disability may mean that you are unable to work as many hours as an able-bodied person, your work may be affected or you may not be able to work at all.
As a result of this, disabled people would otherwise struggle to provide for themselves and have a decent quality of life. The government has set out terms that determine whether a person qualifies for disability benefits which include their definition of a disability which is as follows:
You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
Source: UK Government
If this statement applies to you and you meet the other specified criteria then you may be eligible to apply for disability benefits for spondylosis.
Keep in mind that the term substantial applies to conditions that are more than just minor. For example, something that makes it more difficult to complete day to day tasks like bathing or dressing which may also take the person longer. Where the word ‘long term’ is used, this applies to disabilities or conditions that continue for more than 12 months.
Does Spondylosis Qualify As A Disability For Benefits?
Understanding whether your condition qualifies as a disability can help you to get a better idea of whether you will be eligible for disability benefits.
In the UK, disability benefits are being phased out and replaced by what is known as a Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, for short. To qualify for PIP, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be over 16 years of age
- Be below the national pension age
- Have a long term medical condition, mental health condition or disability that you expect to last for more than 12 months
- Have difficult in getting around or performing everyday tasks as a result of your condition
PIP payments are made in two parts; one daily living element for help with everyday costs and a mobility element for people who require assistance getting around.
So, if you have spondylosis, you’ll likely be wondering whether your condition qualifies you for disability benefits. While spondylosis is not classed as a disability in itself, the symptoms could prevent a person from getting around or managing their day to day tasks. For this reason, it may be possible for you to make a successful claim for disability benefits.
For those whose condition has progressed and are experiencing root compression, spondylosis may make it difficult to work. This is because of a lack of coordination, inability to walk or numbness in the hands and fingers that prevents the person from doing jobs that require good dexterity.
But what you should keep in mind is that spondylosis is normally something that affects older adults. If you are above the national pension age then you will not be able to apply for a PIP payment and will instead need to apply for Attendance Allowance.
Is Spondylosis Progressive?
One of the issues that people face when trying to make a disability benefit claim for spondylosis is that this is a condition that doesn’t always present with symptoms to begin with.
Spondylosis is not deemed a progressive condition, as such, although it does progress with age. The term is given more as a description of your symptoms than it is an official diagnosis. In the early stages, the symptoms may be nothing more than stiffness in the neck or back pain.
However, when the condition progresses, the symptoms can be exacerbated and new ones may appear. These may include tingling, weakness in the limbs and extremities and problems with mobility and coordination. These symptoms are usually as a result of compression of the spinal cord.
According to the UK government, people living with progressive conditions may be classed as disabled and therefore eligible for disability benefits. However, cases will be assessed on an individual basis so it’s very difficult to say for certain whether a progression of the condition would indeed qualify you.
Spondylosis is not classed as a disability as much as it is a description of symptoms in the back and neck as a result of worn discs. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot apply for disability benefits in the UK.
In order to qualify for these benefits, the applicant must suffer from a condition that makes it difficult to get around or to perform everyday tasks. While the early symptoms of spondylosis generally won’t interfere with everyday life, as it progresses, people may have issues with mobility which could result in a successful claim for benefits.
Of course, each case is different so you’ll need to make an application which will be assessed by the government who will determine whether you qualify. If successful, you may receive payments to help with everyday living as well as payments for help getting about. For further advice and more tailored information, I’d recommend checking out the gov.uk website.