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Chronic Pain as a Basis for Social Security Disability Benefits: Part 1—Objective Evidence

  • Published: March 14, 2012

Chronic pain can be defined in a number of different ways. It can be continuous, irregular, or intense. It can be pain that cannot be eliminated by standard medical treatment, pain that persists after an injury or illness has resolved, or pain for which no origin can be determined.

Many Florida Social Security disability clients suffer from chronic pain. However, claimants suffering from chronic pain sometimes have trouble convincing the Social Security Administration that their pain prevents them from working because pain tends to be subjective and difficult to measure. Thus, the Social Security Administration will look at the credibility of the claimant’s description of his or her pain in order to determine if Social Security disability benefits will be awarded.

In order to assist in its decision-making process, the Social Security Administration will evaluate the extent to which your pain prevents you from working with the following questions:

  • Do you have objective evidence that demonstrates a “medically determinable impairment” that could reasonably be the origin of your pain? Stated another way, your medical records and doctors’ reports must illustrate an underlying physical or mental impairment that could reasonably be expected to cause the pain.
  • If you are able to demonstrate a “medically determinable impairment,” how intense and persistent is your pain and how does it limit your ability to perform basic work activities?

Your credibility in describing the intensity and persistence of your pain can be crucial to the success of your case. In order to determine your credibility, the Social Security Administration will look to see whether your statements describing your pain are consistent with the medical evidence and other evidence presented in your case.

Objective Evidence of a “Medically Determinable Impairment”

Your chronic pain must be related to a “medically determinable impairment.” The impairment must be an anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormality that can be shown through objective evidence consisting of medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.

Without this objective evidence, mere statements that you suffer from pain are not enough to prove you are disabled. No matter how genuine your complaints of pain are, the Social Security Administration requires medical signs and laboratory findings that show the existence of a medical impairment that is consistent with your subjective evidence of chronic pain before awarding Social Security disability benefits.

Contact dedicated Florida Social Security disability lawyer Claudeth Henry to discuss establishing a claim based on chronic pain or for a free initial consultation.

Claudeth Henry

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