Chronic Pain as a Basis for a Disability Claim

Posted July 17, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

When people are asked what stops them from working, one of the most common reasons they point to is pain. As anyone who has experienced it knows, acute and/or chronic pain can take over every facet of your life, hindering physical ability, interfering with concentration and stamina, and causing fatigue. Many people with conditions as diverse as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, fibromylagia, migraines, and spinal impairments are in this situation.

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants, documenting and proving the severity and impact of pain is often the most critical element in winning their case. As common as pain may be as a symptom, it cannot be objectively measured. It can be very difficult to convince Social Security that you are disabled on this basis alone. However, Social Security has a rule ( which sets standards that decision-makers must follow when a claimant tells them that pain is a factor in disability.

In determining credibility, the adjudicator must consider the entire case record, including the objective medical evidence, the claimant’s own statements about symptoms, statements and other information provided by treating or examining physicians or psychologists and other persons about the symptoms and how they affect the individual, and any other relevant evidence in the case record. An individual’s statements about the intensity and persistence of pain or other symptoms or about the effect the symptoms have on his or her ability to work may not be disregarded solely because they are not substantiated by objective medical evidence.

The rule cautions that before any complaints of pain can be considered there must be an underlying condition – medical signs and laboratory findings establishing that the person has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment” – which could be expected to cause some degree of pain. Chronic pain of unknown origin cannot be the basis for a disability finding. The next step is showing that the pain interferes with your activity so much that it would prevent you from engaging in full-time work on a regular and continuous basis.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®