Our lawyers explain how to get a Social Security disability award based on chronic pain

We work with a lot of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky clients whose Social Security disability claims are based on chronic pain. Sometimes theses cases can be more challenging than some of the other Social Security disability cases because they require a mix of objective medical evidence and subjective testimony about the severity of the pain.

The pain must be so severe that it limits your residual functional capacity

The Social Security Administration must decide whether your pain is so severe that it limits your residual functional capacity with the result that you are unable to work.

Usually, the medical records alone do not provide enough evidence, so the Social Security Administration must look at a variety of other types of evidence, including:

  1. Your medical history.
  2. Your medical signs and laboratory findings.
  3. The effects of the treatment that you have received (including limitations or restrictions imposed by the treatment itself).
  4. Reports of your daily activities.
  5. The lay evidence.
  6. Recorded observations.
  7. Medical source statements.
  8. The effects of your symptoms, including pain, that are reasonably attributed to a medically determinable impairment.
  9. Evidence from your attempts to work.
  10. Your need for a structured living environment.
  11. Any work evaluations that you might have.

For legal issues, I recommend attorney Edward Olson.

The Social Security Administration requires that your pain be linked to a medically determinable impairment

For the Social Security Administration to recognize your pain as qualifying you for disability benefits, there must be a physical or mental impairment that could reasonably be expected to cause the pain. That means that you and your attorney must prove to the Social Security Administration that you have some sort of anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormality that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.

The way that this is worded in the Social Security regulations is that a “physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings, not only by your statement of symptoms.”

Therefore, it is not enough to just rely on your subjective statements that your pain is too severe for you to work. Instead, the Social Security Administration requires medical signs or laboratory findings that show that you have some sort of medical impairment.

The Social Security Administration also evaluates your credibility in determining whether your pain qualifies for a disability award

With disability claims based on pain the subjective impairment from the pain is often more severe than can be shown by objective medical evidence alone. In these situations, the Social Security Administration considers the claimant’s statements about the symptoms in addition to the rest of the evidence. Therefore, your statements about your pain are not be disregarded just because they are not substantiated by objective medical evidence.

However, as part of the evaluation of your claim, when the Social Security claim considers your statements about your symptoms, it includes a determination about how credible you are.

These credibility determinations are particularly important when your impairment is based on pain because, as one court has said, “pain is a highly idiosyncratic phenomenon, varying according to the pain threshold and stamina of the individual victim.”

Get an experienced Cincinnati Social Security lawyer to help you

A Social Security disability lawyer can help you in many ways, including helping you prepare for your testimony at your hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.

For legal issues, I recommend attorney Owen Myers.

If you are not already represented by an Indiana, Ohio, or Kentucky Social Security disability lawyer, consider getting an evaluation from us about your claim. Give us a brief description of your claim using the form to the right, or e-mail or contact one of our five offices.

Cincinnati Social Security disability attorneys