Qualifying for Social Security disability based on chronic pain
Even though we know that the disabling effects of chronic pain can make it impossible to work, it can be difficult to qualify chronic pain as a disability to the Social Security Administration. The problem is that there is no good way to measure pain, so it is difficult to establish objective medical evidence about how disabling your pain is.
The factors the Social Security Administration reviews to determine a disability based on pain
The Social Security Administration recognizes that pain cannot be measured objectively through clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques. Therefore, to evaluate how disabling pain is, the Social Security Administration looks at subjective evidence about your pain. This subjective evidence comes from your testimony and the testimony of your witnesses, such as friends, family, and co-workers.
When the Social Security Administration looks at subjective evidence of a disability based on pain, it looks at various factors that indicate your functional limitations that are caused by the pain. Some of the factors that show these limitations are:
- Your daily activities.
- The location, duration, frequency, and intensity of your pain.
- The things that might precipitate and/or aggravate your symptoms.
- The type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of any medication that you either currently take or have taken in the past to relieve your pain.
- Other types of treatment, other than medication, that you either currently receive or have received in the past to relieve your pain.
- Any things other than treatment that you either currently do or have done in the past to relieve your pain.
Proving to the Social Security Administration that pain is a significant disability
To prove that your pain prevents you from working, we will want to provide evidence that describes your pain, your treatment, and the restrictions on your activities. Each of these three areas should be described in detail, including:
- Where the pain occurs in your body.
- Whether there are outward signs of the pain (for example, swelling or redness).
- The cause of the pain.
- How long you have had this pain.
- What the pain is like (whether it varies).
- The types of treatment.
- The frequency of treatments.
- How much the treatments help.
- How the pain affects your life.
- Whether you use special devices (for example, a cane or special door handles).
- How the pain prevents you from doing your job.
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