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April 22, 2013

Pain and Your Social Security Disability Hearing

I have found through many years of practicing disability law that each person’s experience of pain is unique.  I have noticed that some of my clients who have similar diagnoses and test results describe the nature and intensity of their pain very differently, and their pain affects each one’s ability to complete daily activities to a different degree.  I believe it is important when testifying at your Indiana disability hearing to be realistic about how your pain feels and how severe your pain is. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at your hearing has access to your medical records and is aware of your diagnoses and test results; he will listen to your descriptions of your pain and try to decide if they are consistent with the information in your records. Many times at hearings, the ALJ or your representative will give you a “pain scale” to rate the severity of the pain you experience. A typical pain scale will describe “0” as no pain at all and a “10” as pain so bad you have to go to the hospital.  The ALJ will then ask you to assess your pain on a typical day after you have taken your prescribed medications.  Even when my clients deal with severe pain every day, I tell them to think hard before telling the judge that they experience pain at a “10” on an average day, unless they really do go to the emergency room several times a week.  If the ALJ thinks you are exaggerating your pain symptoms at your hearing, he might not believe other parts of your testimony, either.  In my opinion, it is important to tell the truth at your hearing.  These judges have presided over numerous hearings and have a lot of experience deciding whether people are being honest … Continued

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September 10, 2012

Does The Social Security Administration Consider How Much Pain I Experience?

Yes, the Social Security Administration is supposed to consider your pain when deciding if you are disabled.  The pain you experience from standing, walking, pushing, pulling, lifting, and sitting may make it difficult, if not impossible, to perform substantial gainful activity.  Many of my clients are not able to focus or concentrate long enough to work because the pain is so severe.  If you do experience pain, it is important to regularly report the frequency and intensity of your pain to your physician.  The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may be skeptical about your complaints of pain if your medical records do not show that you have talked to your doctors about them. Some of my clients suffering from physical disabilities tell me the pain they experience is simply too much to bear. They often enter an Indiana Social Security disability hearing prepared to let the ALJ know exactly what the pain is like on a day to day basis. As an attorney, I give my clients guidelines to help them explain their pain to the judge, and I urge them to be as truthful and straightforward as possible. Most of my clients listen to my advice, but sometimes, clients go into the courtroom and exaggerate their pain symptoms to an unbelievable degree. Being honest about everything at your disability appeal hearing is very important, from explaining what you are physically able to do to describing the pain you experience. In most hearings, the judge or I ask the claimant to rate his pain on a scale from zero to ten, where a rating of zero is no pain, and a rating of ten is pain so severe that you have to go to the hospital. To my surprise, some individuals testify that their pain is at level ten on a … Continued

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September 8, 2010

Describing The Pain You Are Experiencing At Your Social Security Disability Hearing

Indianapolis Attorney Scott Lewis often finds himself talking to his clients in depth about the pain they are experiencing.  Describing your pain in detail may help a Social Security disability client win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  Other than your medical records and possibly a medical expert, the only other information an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at your disability appeal may be able to rely on is your testimony.  With that in mind, disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes it is very important to describe the pain you feel as accurately as you possibly can. Different Social Security disability claimants experience and tolerate pain at varying levels.  Due to the subjective nature of pain, it may be difficult to explain to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and make them understand how painful your condition is.  Many physical conditions can cause pain including back problems, fibromyalgia, diabetes, migraine headaches, COPD, heart problems, and other conditions.  A Social Security disability claimant may experience pain from not one physical condition, but a combination of physical conditions. Many times at a Social Security disability hearing, Indiana Attorney Scott Lewis will ask his disability clients questions to help them better explain the pain they experience.  For example: Where do you feel the pain?  If you experience pain in your back and it radiates down your legs, you should let the SSA know the exact location of your pain. What does the pain feel like?  If it is a sharp, dull, or burning sensation, you should describe it in as much detail as possible. Many times, Attorney Scott Lewis may ask his Indiana disability clients to describe the pain they experience on a zero to ten scale.  Zero being no pain and ten being pain so severe they must go to the hospital. How often do you feel the pain?  Is it hourly, daily, weekly, … Continued

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