Does Chronic Pain Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Social Security Disability |

Living with chronic pain can be an overwhelming challenge that affects every aspect of your life. For individuals facing the daily struggles of chronic pain, seeking Social Security Disability benefits can provide much-needed financial support.

The problem is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) excludes chronic pain from its list of impairments that qualify for disability benefits. The key to obtaining the support you need is figuring out whether your pain meets the SSA’s criteria. If you suffer from chronic pain, read on to learn whether you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is more than a physical ailment. It’s a pervasive condition that affects your ability to work, engage in daily activities, and maintain a good quality of life. It’s typically pain that lasts for at least three months or more.

Conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and nerve damage can lead to persistent and debilitating pain, making it challenging for individuals to perform what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA for short. SGA refers to an individual’s level of work activity.

So, shouldn’t chronic pain qualify for disability benefits? Not necessarily.

How can people with chronic pain qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits due to chronic pain, applicants must meet specific SSA criteria. Unlike some other medical conditions, chronic pain itself is not listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, the manual the agency uses to evaluate disability claims.

However, chronic pain can be considered a symptom of an underlying medical condition that may be eligible for benefits. Medical conditions listed in the Blue Book that may cause chronic pain include back and spinal injuries, inflammatory arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, neurological disorders, somatoform disorders, and chronic kidney failure or renal disease.

Even if you don’t meet the Blue Book criteria, you may qualify for partial benefits, so long as your medical condition prevents you from working for a year or more.

How can I increase my chances of success when applying for disability benefits for chronic pain?

While the process of qualifying for disability can be hard, it’s not impossible. Here are some of the key steps in the process.

  1. Gather your medical evidence: You’ll need comprehensive medical records detailing your chronic pain condition. These records should include doctor’s notes, test results, and treatment plans that illustrate the severity and persistence of your pain. Keep records of all doctor’s appointments, your doctors’ contact information, and diagnosis notes as well. You’ll likely need to see a doctor who specializes in pain management, such as a neurologist, neurosurgeon, orthopedic doctor, or pain management specialist.
  2. Establish functional limitations: Explain clearly how your chronic pain limits your ability to perform daily tasks and work-related activities. Include detailed information about any restrictions or limitations your condition imposes on your physical or mental capabilities.
  3. Meet the duration requirement: Chronic pain must be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or result in death. Your medical evidence must demonstrate the long-term nature of your chronic pain.
  4. Cooperate with SSA requests: Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or medical evaluations from the SSA. If you don’t cooperate, the SSA will dismiss your claim.

How can a disability law firm help with my disability claim?

Engaging the services of an experienced disability attorney in Richmond, Virginia, can simplify the process of applying for benefits. Experienced disability attorneys understand the nuances of the application process, can help you gather critical evidence, and can advocate for your rights before the agency and during appeals, if necessary.

With the right approach and professional guidance, you can get the financial support you need. If you or a loved one is dealing with chronic pain and considering applying for Social Security disability benefits, reach out to our law firm today. You don’t have to face these challenges alone, and help is available to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

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