Proving Pain in Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Claims
September 19, 2023 | Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews applications for disability. The federal government has two disability programs. The first program is for workers who become disabled (SSDI), and the second program (SSI) is for low-income individuals who are disabled and do not qualify for the first program.
For both programs, the individual must prove they cannot work because of a “medically determinable impairment.” The impairment can result from physiological, anatomical, or psychological abnormalities or conditions. However, the impairment must prevent the person from performing a “substantial gainful activity” to earn an income.
How Does the Social Security Administration Evaluate Symptoms for Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania?
The SSA considers the symptoms a person reports associated with their impairment or condition. However, there must be medical evidence proving that you have a condition that is expected to produce those symptoms.
Once you establish that you have a condition, the SSA evaluates the persistence and intensity of your symptoms. They must determine how much your symptoms limit your ability and capacity to work. The SSA uses evidence from your medical records, medical opinions, and nonmedical sources.
How Does Pain Impact Decisions for Social Security Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania?
Pain is a symptom that the Social Security Administration will consider in making a determination about disability benefits. However, an individual’s statement about pain or other symptoms is not conclusive evidence by itself for a determination of disability. Objective medical evidence must support the claim that pain impacts your ability to work.
For example, an MRI or CT Scan showing a brain injury combined with a medical opinion that the type of injury can cause chronic and debilitating headaches could be considered objective medical evidence. That evidence, combined with your testimony regarding the severity and frequency of the headaches, could be used to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).
RFC is your ability to perform activities, given the effects of your symptoms and condition. In other words, what impairments or limitations do your symptoms place on your ability to perform work-related tasks? For instance, chronic migraines could significantly impact your ability to concentrate and maintain attention to tasks.
The Social Security Administration uses numerous factors to determine the impact of pain on a person’s ability to work. Those factors include, but are not limited to:
- Your daily activities
- The frequency, duration, intensity, and location of your pain
- Aggravating and precipitating factors
- The dosage, type, effectiveness, and side effects of any medication that you have taken or could take to relieve the pain
- Other treatments you received or could receive to relieve the pain
- The measures you have taken or are taking to relieve your pain
- Other factors about your restrictions and functional limitations caused by the pain
Unfortunately, chronic pain is not a medical condition that automatically qualifies for Social Security disability benefits. However, you can still qualify for SSI or SSDI disability benefits if you prove that your pain prevents you from working.
How Do I Prove Pain Prevents Me From Working for Social Security Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania?
As discussed above, you must prove that the pain prevents you from performing work-related tasks. Because pain is subjective, it can be challenging to convince an Administrative Law Judge that your pain is so severe that you cannot work.
A Harrisburg Social Security disability lawyer can help you establish your case by collecting evidence to prove you have a condition known for causing severe pain. Evidence used to prove pain for a Social Security disability claim includes:
- Medical records
- Results from diagnostic tests
- Opinions from medical experts
- Results of an independent medical examination (IME)
- Employment records
If you have not sought medical treatment for your chronic pain, the SSA is unlikely to believe you have a condition preventing you from working. Therefore, prompt medical care is crucial if pain is impacting your daily activities.
Your personal testimony is also very important in proving a disability claim for pain. You will be asked about your daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and caring for your children. You will also be asked to provide a list of things you can do for yourself, even if you need modifications to perform the tasks, such as taking frequent breaks.Your credibility is an essential factor in the outcome of your disability claim. If you have chronic pain that prevents you from working, you might want to consult a Harrisburg Social Security disability lawyer now. Having an attorney assist you in applying for Social Security disability helps you avoid mistakes and errors that could hurt your case.
Contact an Experienced Disability Lawyer ASAP
It can be challenging trying to thread your way through the disability bureaucracy, particularly if you’ve never done it before. A disability lawyer can guide you through the thicket so that you end up with the most favorable possible results. Contact a lawyer today to set up a free initial consultation so that a lawyer can evaluate your disability claim.
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