Chronic pain refers to recurrent pain that continues way longer than expected. It is usually caused by injuries or acute illnesses lasting more than 3 – 6 months and in some instances the cause is unknown. Its indicators include: back pain, headaches, joint pain, or general nerve or muscle pain. It may be related to an injury or illness, or it may have no known cause. In other instances you may be diagnosed with pain disorders such as chronic regional pain syndrome, somatoform pain disorder, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), or a disorder that causes chronic pain, such as peripheral neuropathy, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.
All these cannot guarantee you Social Security until you prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) the severity of the condition medically on how it has caused physical or mental impairment. There must be medical evidence such as objective symptoms and lab tests. This means that severe chronic pain that is disabling cannot qualify you for disability benefits unless there are medical records (lab tests, x-rays, results of a physical exam) to support the same. Additionally, you are required to establish that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months and above. Continuous examinations also play a role. In the event you meet the threshold, Social Security will assess whether the impairment qualifies for disability benefits. Social Security applies a formula that includes your age, job and educational background to determine whether you qualify for disability.
Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability in Summary
In summary, chronic pain does not instantly guarantee you Social Security benefits since it is not a listed impairment in blue book but on a case by case evaluation, you qualify for the disability benefits. Thus, as a matter of general rule, SSA does not consider chronic pain to be a disability
However, court decisions from cases filed at the Federal Courts have held that Social Security must evaluate the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of a claimants pain symptoms Vis a Vis their ability to undertake basic work activities. Factors to be considered include:
· location, duration, frequency and intensity of the pain;
· factors that cause and aggravate the pain;
· how such pain affects a claimants daily activities;
· type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of medication taken to ease the pain;
· Additional treatments used to relieve symptoms, such as physical therapy among others.
Note: Your doctor’s opinion on the functional limitations caused by the pain you are experiencing and the duration in which such chronic pain will limit you is important.
If Social Security denies you benefits based on the claim you make or they do not believe its impact is as grave as indicated, they must issue you with clear and convincing reasons as to why they rejected the claim. Since pain is not something that can be established by objective testing or observation, it is only you who can know where and how much pain you feel. That is why it is important to submit credible information on how your disability is being caused by chronic pain.
For more information, or if you’ve been denied benefits, call 844-432-0114.