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How does pain affect your claim for Social Security Disability?

When people talk about why their condition is disabling, they often mention the pain they experience. Pain is, after all, very limiting. It can exhaust you, make it difficult to concentrate and make it impossible to sit, stand, walk, lift or otherwise function normally throughout your day.

But, since everyone experiences pain differently, how does pain figure into a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits?

Your pain has to be related to an underlying diagnosis

In order to consider your pain as part of your condition, Social Security has to first determine what underlying condition is causing your pain.

In other words, the agency won’t consider your pain disabling unless there’s a reasonable explanation for the pain in the first place. If you have a diagnosis that’s consistent with back pain — like a ruptured disc in your lower back — then Social Security has to take your statements about the limitations of your pain into account.

This is important because having a ruptured disc isn’t necessarily the total cause of your disability. Pain is, in its own right, a disabling condition that should be listed as such on your application.

The more you have tried to mitigate your pain, the better

Because pain is a largely subjective experience, Social Security looks for ways to determine that your actions have been consistent with someone that is in significant pain.

To continue the example, imagine that your pain from a back injury has significantly changed the course of your life. You took a leave from work to try to heal. You have sought treatment with several specialists for your back. You have gone to a pain management doctor. You’ve tried everything your doctor has suggested — including epidural treatments and steroids — to alleviate your pain. In other words, your actions indicate that pain is a serious problem for you — lending more weight to your statements.

If you’ve tried and failed to get a Social Security Disability claim approved because of back pain or another painful condition, it may be time to get some legal assistance.