March 2, 2010
Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits
Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claimants often experience pain from their disability, but find it difficult to explain the level of pain to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It may be likely that pain interferes with the claimant’s ability to work. So, how does a SSDI or SSI claimant prove to the SSA that the pain they experience limits their ability to working?
Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer, Scott D. Lewis, has represented claimants that experience pain causing them to be unable to work. In these cases, it is important to effectively prove to the SSA that this pain prevents the claimant from performing their job and any other job. Since pain is subjective, it may be hard to describe. Pain is not a visible condition which makes it even harder to prove. It is essential to identify the physical location of the pain. Attorney Scott Lewis may ask his clients to rate their level of pain on a scale from one to ten, one being minimal pain such as a mild headache and ten being excruciating pain so severe that the individual must go to the hospital. It is important not to exaggerate your pain because it may destroy your credibility in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). When alleging pain, it is important to be credible. Claimants should be specific about the level of pain during certain times. For example, if you have constant pain at a level 5 but the level increases when you vacuum the house to a level 10, then the claimant should describe this change when performing certain activities. If there is something that specifically triggers your pain, this triggering activity should be described. For example, if you experience pain in your back from walking or if you experience migraine headache pain from staring at the computer monitor, this needs to be explained to the SSA. Remember, you want to describe the pain in as much detail as possible. The claimant should use accurate and detailed adjectives when describing their pain. Such details may include sharp, dull, throbbing, piercing, or shooting pain. It may be constant pain or it may progress with certain activities.
Attorney Scott Lewis advises his clients to accurately describe their pain to their treating physicians at all times. When visiting your doctor, it is important to be honest about your pain. When the doctor asks you how you are doing, it’s not uncommon for patients to answer “fine” even though they are in pain. Also, if the claimant’s treating physician ask if they are in pain and the answer is a simple “yes,” that response may not be adequate to help detail teh claimant’s medical records. These responses may be recorded on your medical records and this may not help you win your Social Security disability claim.
If your treating physician has prescribed you medication for your pain, it may be beneficial to share how the medication helps with the pain that you experience. In some cases, the medicine might only alleviate some of the pain. If that is the case, the claimant should describe what the medication does not relieve.
Most disability claimants find it to be helpful to keep daily logs of their experiences of chronic pain. Keeping records may truly benefit in proving your disability claim. Remember your goal. Your ultimate goal is to effectively describe your chronic pain in your disability claim. In summary, a claimant would want to include the following information in their daily log:
- Location of the pain on your body
- Very descriptive words identifying what the pain feels like (remember to use the scale to describe the level of the pain)
- Duration of the pain
- Frequency of the pain
- Any activities that trigger the pain
- Any effects the pain has on the claimant
- Medication effects
If you or someone you know is experiencing pain due to a disability, you may qualify for disability benefits. Attorney Scott D. Lewis can assist you in getting the benefits you deserve. If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits, contact Scott Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888.