When job duties contribute to a neck or back condition causing early retirement, there may be worker’s compensation benefits available to the injured worker.  Even without an identifiable traumatic injury or reported accident, if a degenerative neck or low back condition makes it impossible to keep working there are worker’s compensation benefits available to the worker, if a doctor states that the back injury or condition was caused in part by the worker’s job duties over time.  McCormick Law Office reviews cases of workers who have been forced to early retirement because their neck or back will not let them continue working: construction laborers, masons, electricians, drywallers, painters, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, HVAC; factory manufacturing machinists, tool and die makers, warehouse workers, maintenance; nurses and CNAs; welders, ironworkers, boilermakers, landscapers and truck drivers.

Job duties involving repetitive bending, lifting and twisting at the waist, can be proof of a lumbar or low back work-related condition.  Similarly, job duties involving flexing or hyperextending the neck and working at shoulder level or overhead, make a cervical or neck injury more likely.  A thorough job description is necessary to determine the work-relatedness of a neck or low back condition from job duties over time.  The longer a worker performs the physical job duties, the more likely a doctor will give an opinion that the condition is in part caused from the job duties.

A diagnosis of “degenerative disc disease” does not mean the condition is not work-related.  In fact, it may be very likely that the degenerative disc disease is work-related and worker’s compensation benefits are available.  The nature of the degeneration in the medical records has to be looked at.  Diagnostic tests including MRI, CT scan, discogram or discography, EMG/NCV, x-rays, as well as clinical examination correlation by your doctor is key to any case evaluation.  Terms such as disc bulging or herniation, endplate changes, bone spurring, annular tears, ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, facet joint syndrome, spinal stenosis, canal stenosis, neural foraminal stenosis, calcification or ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament or even arthritis are all elements of degenerative disc disease that can be related to physical job duties.  Most doctors do not offer opinions on whether a back or neck condition is related to job duties unless specifically asked.

Bottom line, if a man or woman did a physical job for a living and had to stop working before they wanted to because of neck or back pain, the worker should contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney to discuss whether there are worker’s compensation benefits available to the person.