Chronic pain is an ongoing or recurring pain that lasts longer than the usual course of an illness or injury, typically more than three to six months.
Fortunately, for those who suffer from severe chronic pain, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider a claim for pain as long as there is some medical evidence of physical or mental impairment.
Qualifying for Disability
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you must prove that you have a medically determinable impairment.
This means that you must provide hard medical evidence with objective proof of how disabling your condition is. This can include medical records with x-rays, lab tests and the results of a physical exam.
The medical evidence should demonstrate that your pain is caused by a physical or mental impairment and that your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months.
Chronic pain is not listed in the SSA's blue book of impairments that automatically qualify you for benefits. This means that you will have to meet the requirements of another listing that is related to chronic pain, like inflammatory arthritis or neurological disorders, or that causes chronic pain like a back injury.
In most cases, the SSA will have to determine the severity of your condition through a residual functional capacity (RFC) test in which it can determine your ability to perform substantial gainful activity.
Determining Your Functional Limitations
Through an RFC assessment, the SSA will assess your physical and mental limitations to determine if your condition prevents you from being able to work. Because pain is subjective, proving the debilitating qualities of your condition can be difficult.
It is important that your medical records paint a full picture of the effects chronic pain has on your life, including:
- How often, frequent and intense the pain is
- How the pain affects your daily life
- Factors that aggravate or cause your pain
- Any medication and treatments used to relieve pain
You should also keep a record of everything you do to help relieve your pain, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. This can include elevating your feet, lying down, applying ice or heat throughout the day, and whether or not you can stand or sit all day.
Make sure to document how your chronic pain makes everyday life difficult, including your ability to cook, clean and do chores around your house.
For help appealing a denied claim for disability benefits for chronic pain or any other condition, contact a Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer at Dayes Law Firm PC for a free consultation.