The most common reason our clients quit working is pain. Severe pain hinders your physical ability. It interferes with your concentration and stamina. It can cause fatigue. It will control every aspect of your life and make the simplest things unbearable. Many people with conditions as diverse as Failed Back Syndrome, Lupus, Multiple Schlerosis, Fibromylagia, migraines and Degenerative Disc Disease live everyday with the severe limitations caused by chronic pain.
For Social Security disability and SSI claims, documenting and proving the severity and the impact of pain is often the most critical element in winning the case.
Pain cannot be objectively measured. As common as pain is, it can be very difficult to convince Social Security that a claimant is disabled solely on the basis of pain.
Social Security has a rule (Social Security Ruling 16-3p) which sets the standards for decision-makers to follow when a claimant tells them that pain is a factor in their disability.
Before complaints of pain are evaluated, the rule requires an underlying condition. The physical or mental impairment must be expected to cause some degree of the pain. Chronic pain of an unknown origin is not permitted to be the basis for a finding of disability. Medical signs and laboratory findings must establish that the person has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment."
After an underlying diagnosis has been established, the rule requires the decision-maker to carefully consider all of the claimant's allegations of pain. The severity of a person’s pain must be determined. The impact of the pain on the person's ability to function must also be assessed.
It is important to note that under the rule, the amount of pain that a person is suffering from may be greater than what is suggested by the objective medical evidence. In that case, the person’s statements about pain, even though subjective, have to be carefully evaluated along with the medical information and documentation in the file. The credibility of the patient is the most important factor in assessing the subjective pain.
In deciding what to accept from the claimant’s statements about pain, the Social Security Administrative Law Judge has to determine if the testimony is consistent with the medical reports, treatment notes, and the evidence of the claimant’s daily activities. The administrative law judge is the sole judge of the credibility of the claimant.
Often there are psychological factors like anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder involved in chronic pain cases. These psychological factors can affect the claimant’s ability to tolerate pain. In some cases, the claimant may have a somatoform disorder. A somatoform disorder occurs when a patient actually converts a purely psychological problem into very real pain. If you are wondering: "Does chronic pain qualify for disability?" The answer is: Yes.
There are many factors at work in chronic pain cases. In order for a chronic pain claim to be successful, it must be fully developed and documented. One of the best ways to document a disability from chronic pain is to obtain a Residual Functional Capacity Evaluation from a doctor that regularly treats you for your chronic pain.
If you would like to discuss obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits due to chronic pain, contact us for help in developing the critical evidence that is needed to win.
Our McKinney, Texas Social Security disability law firm serves all of Dallas and Fort Worth, including McKinney, Frisco, Plano and Allen. Our Huntington, West Virginia attorney office serves all of West Virginia.