January 9, 2014

Is Chronic Pain Syndrome Recognized as a Qualifying Disability?

Even though the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) listing of impairments is relatively long, chronic pain syndrome is not specifically listed. But this does not mean that you cannot receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for your condition.  

The SSA’s listing of impairments is very detailed and has listings for most health issues. There are a handful of listings that might be related to your back pain. 

They may include but are not limited to:

  • 1.00 Musculoskeletal System
  • 5.00 Digestive System
  • 11.00 Neurological
  • 12.00 Mental Disorders
  • 14.00 Immune System Disorders

If you have chronic pain due to any of the conditions on the SSA’s listing of impairments, it is possible that the SSA will approve your claim in the initial application or the reconsideration stages.  However, this is rarely the case.  It is normal for a claim to go all the way to the hearing stage, which usually takes about a year.

In my experience, to have the best possible chance at winning your disability claim, you need to have as thorough and up to date medical records as possible.  No matter how severe your chronic back pain is, it does not qualify by itself for Social Security Disability benefits.  We must prove to the judge that even though you do not meet listing exactly, your limited functionality keeps you from working a normal eight hour per day job.  

If your case does meet a listing exactly, we must prove that you have a “residual functioning capacity ” (RFC) low enough that you cannot work a normal eight hour job.  In determining your RFC the Social Security Administration may look at a few things including but not limited to:

  • Sitting, standing, and walking limitations
  • Lifting and carrying limitations
  • Postural limitations
  • Limitations of manipulation of your hands

If you have any questions concerning the SSA’s listing of impairments or want a more in depth explanation of what you RFC is, you should contact the SSA or a SSA claim representative.  The SSA is happy to help claimants with questions that they have about the application process, and most attorneys or representatives offer a free consultation.

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