The Social Security Administration is required to consider pain and the limitations it causes when evaluating a disability claim.

In order to be found disabled and receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must be found to have a severe impairment, or combination of severe impairments. Only if your impairment significantly limits your physical or mental ability to perform basic on-the-job activities can you be considered disabled from working. Your impairment must be able to be determined through medical evidence, and the impairment must reasonably be expected to cause the pain.

Pain and Social Security Disability Determinations

The SSA must consider your subjective symptoms, including pain, in their determination. In addition, the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is a measure of what you can still do even with your injury or illness. In determining your RFC, the SSA must establish, through medical evidence, the physical and mental activities that you are able to do in a work setting. This determination of RFC includes a consideration of all symptoms, including pain.

SSA also considers non-medical evidence in assessing the functional limitations of a mental impairment. This includes subjective reports of pain in addition to medical facts, diagnoses and medical opinions based on such facts.

In addition to your testimony of the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of your pain, the SSA will consider:

  • Side effects and other symptoms due to medication you take to alleviate pain
  • Other treatments you may endure to achieve pain relief
  • Factors that aggravate or bring on your pain
  • Other factors that may affect your functional limitations due to pain; for example, mental issues such as depression due to chronic pain

Proving Pain in Social Security Disability Claims

Although the SSA is required to consider pain in SSD decisions, proving that a claimant is in disabling pain can be a challenging task. If a patient’s medical files report an MRI showing a bulging disc that is considered objective medical evidence of a physical condition. It can be medically proven.

However, a patient with fibromyalgia has chronic pain that cannot be proven through MRI or blood work or other technology. This claimant needs to provide the SSA with enough information and the type of evidence the SSA needs to determine whether their pain is due to a “medically determinable impairment.”

Fill out a free claim evaluation or call us at 1-800-277-0300 to get started.