Chronic Pain and SSA Disability Benefits

Many people experience chronic pain that is so severe it makes it impossible to work full time.  The pain is so severe that strong pain relievers cannot alleviate it.   It may exist but the medical community has failed to find an origin or diagnosis.  If you cannot work because of this type of pain, you should be able to qualify for either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

In order to be awarded social security benefits a claimant must meet the criteria listed in Social Security listing of impairments.  Since chronic pain does not have a listing then it is impossible to meet the criteria; however, often times the underlying conditions that are the causing the pain qualify through a listing.  These conditions include:

  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Neurological disorders
  • Back injury
  • Chronic renal disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

You will have to prove through credible medical evidence (doctor’s notes, laboratory results, MRIs, X-rays) that your acute pain is so severe that you cannot work.  It is important that your medical records show that the pain may impact climbing, kneeling, balancing, bending, stooping, crawling, fingering, feeling, carrying, lifting, standing, walking and sitting.

If you suffer with a chronic pain condition, maintain a pain diary in which you make note of your level of pain on a daily basis on a calendar.  Your calendar and notes can serve as valuable evidence to help a judge understand what you are going through.

Finally, do not forget that the work limitations can also arise from side effects of the medications you are taking because of pain.  If you have been prescribed powerful pain medication, make note of the side effects like drowsiness, poor concentration and listlessness as these side effects can create significant work limitations as well.