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Four Things to Know About Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

 Posted on June 14, 2016 in Social Security Disability

chronic pain, Chicago social security disability benefits lawyerIn earlier posts, we talked about how medical conditions that cause chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, may help qualify someone to receive Social Security Disability insurance benefits. Although chronic pain can render a person unable to work, Social Security officials often dismiss complaints of chronic pain as made up. With that in mind, here are some things you should know about seeking disability benefits if you suffer from chronic pain.

1. Obtain as Much Medical Evidence as Possible

The biggest issue with applying for disability benefits based on chronic pain is the difficulty in “objectively” proving its frequency and severity. Social Security officials tend to assume disability applicants are fabricating or exaggerating their pain just to get benefits. That is why you need to approach Social Security with as much documented medical evidence as possible. This includes laboratory tests, X-rays, and physical examination by a qualified physician. Keep in mind that medical evidence need not prove the severity of your pain, only that it has a demonstrable physical cause.

2. You Must Prove Chronic Pain Limits Your Ability to Work

A person cannot claim disability just because he or she was in pain for a week. Chronic pain should be documented over a continuous period of at least one year. Aside from medical evidence, a person must also demonstrate to Social Security how chronic pain restricts or limits their ability to perform basic tasks normally associated with working a full-time job. This includes the ability to sit, stand, walk, and handle physical objects during a typical eight-hour workday. In some cases, chronic pain may leave a person unable to concentrate or follow directions. All of these problems should be documented and presented to Social Security.

3. Treatment and Lifestyle Also Matter

Social Security officials will not just want to know how chronic pain affects you at work. They will inquire as to how it affects your everyday activities. This includes taking care of your children, housework, exercising, shopping, et cetera. You should explain how chronic pain affects these activities in detail.

You should also document any treatment that you have received for chronic pain. It is important to illustrate to Social Security that you have made every effort to manage your chronic pain. This may be difficult if you lack health insurance and are unable to see a doctor on a regular basis. Still, there may be alternative treatments, such as yoga or acupuncture, that you can cite as proof that you are suffering from chronic pain.

4. Never Lie or Mislead Social Security

In many disability cases, the single most important factor in a decision to grant or deny benefits is the credibility of the applicant. If a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) thinks an applicant is exaggerating his or her pain, that alone can be sufficient to reject a disability claim. Similarly, if an applicant withholds information about their treatment or daily activities, that can lead the ALJ to decide the person’s entire case lacks credibility.

That said, an ALJ must still offer a logical explanation for rejecting a disability claim. It is not enough for Social Security to simply call you a liar without proof. Indeed, federal courts in Illinois have routinely chastised Social Security for summarily dismissing applicants suffering from chronic pain. That is why you should never deal with Social Security without the assistance of an experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer. Contact the attorneys at Pearson Disability, LLC, if you need to speak with someone about your Social Security case right away.



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