Savannah and other Georgia Social Security claimants can qualify for a disability award based on pain

Getting a Social Security disability award based solely on pain can be more challenging than a disability award based on some other symptom, but it is not impossible.

There are three steps to proof of pain:

  1. You have a medically determinable impairment.
  2. That impairment can cause the pain.
  3. Pain limits you to the degree alleged.

The first of these two steps are primarily medical issues, and there must be sufficient medical opinion evidence in the record. The third step is a combination of medical issues and subjective matters that are shown by testimony from you and your lay witnesses.

Showing that pain limits your residual functional capacity

The Social Security Administration has to determine whether your pain limits your residual functional capacity so much that you are unable to work. To make this determination the Social Security Administration looks at all the evidence in the record, and particularly considers the following items:

  1. Your medical history.
  2. Your medical signs and laboratory findings.
  3. The effects of treatment. This includes limitations or restrictions that are imposed by the mechanics of the treatment (for example, frequency of treatment, duration, disruption to routine, side effects of medication).
  4. Reports of your daily activities.
  5. The lay (non medical) evidence.
  6. Recorded observations.
  7. Medical source statements.
  8. The effects of your symptoms, including pain, that are reasonably attributed to a medically determinable impairment.
  9. Evidence from your attempts to work.
  10. Your need for a structured living environment.
  11. Any work evaluations that you might have.

Your credibility is part of the Social Security Administration’s evaluation of whether your pain qualifies you for a disability award

Nothing in the Social Security Act or regulations speaks directly about determining credibility. However, courts have noted that credibility determinations are essential when a fact-finder is evaluating the extent of limitations resulting from a medically determinable impairment.

This is especially true when the impairment is based on pain because, as one court has said, “pain is a highly idiosyncratic phenomenon, varying according to the pain threshold and stamina of the individual victim.”

Similarly, another court noted that “What one human being may be able to tolerate as an uncomfortable but bearable burden may constitute for another human being a degree of pain so unbearable as to subject him to unrelenting misery of the worst sort.”

The Social Security Administration starts its evaluation of pain with objective evidence

Even with the understanding that pain is very subjective and can vary from person to person, a claim of a disability that prevents you from working must be based on a medically determinable impairment that would cause the pain. That is, there must be some objective evidence from medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings.

The Social Security Administration makes a distinction between “signs” and “symptoms.” That is, your symptom of pain is your perception or description of the impact of an impairment. A Social Security regulation states that when a manifestation such as pain can be shown by medically acceptable clinical diagnostic techniques, it represents a medical “sign” rather than a “symptom.” Although pain itself cannot be observed, many of its manifestations such as flinching when a part of the body is palpated can be observed. Even palpation where the person reports tenderness of trigger points, as with fibromyalgia, is a sign because it is reproducible.

An experienced Georgia Social Security lawyer can help

If you are prevented from working because of your pain you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. However, proof of a disability on this ground may be difficult and your chances will be greatly improved if you have a disability lawyer working with you.

If you are not already represented by a Georgia disability lawyer, consider contacting us for an evaluation of your claim. Fill out the form to your right, or contact us at:

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Southeast Georgia Social Security disability lawyers
Appointments available in Dublin, Pooler, Savannah, Statesboro, and Vidalia