Social Security Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain Conditions

Submitted by rtg on

Chronic pain conditions don’t just cause discomfort. Long-term pain can also impact your ability to work and earn a living.

If you can’t work due to a chronic pain condition, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits to individuals who can’t work due to medical conditions. Said benefits may help cover the cost of their basic needs.

Understanding Chronic Pain Conditions

Chronic pain can take many forms. Examples of chronic pain conditions include:

  • Fibromyalgia and other forms of widespread muscle pain
  • Arthritis and other forms of joint pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Pain resulting from a tumor
  • Headaches/migraines

Chronic pain can negatively impact one’s ability to work and perform basic daily activities. Sometimes, it’s relatively easy to understand why pain may have such effects. For example, perhaps someone’s job involves physical labor. They may naturally be unable to continue doing this type of work if they’re constantly in pain.

However, chronic pain can even make it difficult or impossible for someone to perform work tasks that might not immediately appear to be very physically demanding. If chronic pain makes it difficult for someone to sit or stand in one position for a prolonged time, it could limit their job prospects. Chronic pain can also cause depression and other symptoms that may interfere with someone’s ability to work.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

“Do I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?” You’re likely asking this if you have a chronic pain condition that prevents you from working.

The SSA’s Blue Book lists and describes the types of medical conditions that might qualify someone for benefits. Consult this resource to find out if your condition meets the criteria. A legal professional may also review your case and explain how likely you are to qualify.

Whether you qualify can also depend on the types of benefits you’re seeking. Benefits come in two forms: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

SSI is a needs-based program. You have to show you lack the ability to tend to your own needs to qualify for SSI. To qualify for SSDI, you need to have worked in the past and paid into the Social Security system. Whether you may receive SSDI depends in part on how many “work credits” you’ve accrued.

Medical Evidence Needed

Medical evidence will play a substantial role in your case. Examples of medical evidence you may submit when applying for Social Security disability benefits include:

  • General medical records
  • Diagnostic test results
  • Doctor’s statements

The types of medical evidence you need to submit can vary depending on your condition. For example, if you have inflammatory arthritis, you might need to show that your condition requires you to use a cane, crutches, or other such mobility device.

It’s essential to adhere to a doctor’s recommended treatment plan when applying for benefits. The SSA needs to see you’re taking steps to optimize your condition. Even if your condition is chronic, you may be able to alleviate it to a sufficient degree that you can one day work again.

The Disability Evaluation Process

When you file an initial claim for Social Security benefits, it’s likely the Disability Determination Services (DDS) will evaluate the claim first. Various SSA field offices and other agencies offer DDS services.

The SSA may deny your initial claim. You can appeal their decision if this happens.

Tips for Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

You have multiple options for filing Social Security benefits claims. You may:

  • File online
  • Visit your local SSA office to file
  • Call your local SSA office
  • Mail an application

Tips to improve your chances of receiving an approval include:

  • Err on the side of caution and gather as much medical evidence as you can
  • Carefully and thoroughly check and re-check your paperwork to avoid delays resulting from administrative errors
  • Keep a pain journal to describe the way pain affects your daily life
  • Continue seeking medical treatment
  • Keep copies of all medical records and relevant receipts

The value of speaking with a lawyer can’t be overstated. Along with strengthening your claim, an attorney can help with various administrative tasks. Letting a lawyer complete and submit an application on your behalf can simplify the process.

Appealing a Denied Claim

If you have to appeal a denial, gathering more medical evidence is one of the best steps you can take. It’s also critical to thoroughly understand the SSA’s reasons for issuing a denial. Sometimes, the SSA will specify what additional information they need from you.

The appeals process involves these four steps. If you receive an approval at any of these steps, you don’t need to move to the next step:

  • Requesting a reconsideration
  • Requesting a hearing in front of an administrative law judge
  • Requesting a review of the hearing decision
  • Filing an action with the relevant U.S. Federal District court

Speak With a Social Security Disability Attorney

Did you know the SSA denies most initial applications for Social Security disability benefits? That’s not meant to make you feel you can’t receive the benefits for which you may be eligible. It’s meant to encourage you to seek legal representation.

A lawyer’s assistance may improve your chances of receiving an approval. Even if the SSA denies your initial claim, a lawyer could assist with your appeal. Learn more by taking the Free Case Evaluation today to speak with an independent lawyer who subscribes to this website.