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Getting Social Security Disability Benefits Based on Pain as a Disability

Chronic pain can be sufficiently disabling to prevent you from working. However, proving this impairment to the Social Security Administration can be a challenge because of the requirement to show a “medically determinable impairment.”
Showing that pain is connected to a medically determinable impairment
The Social Security Administration requires that an impairment must be shown by medical evidence. That is, you cannot establish an impairment simply by your own testimony about your symptoms. Instead, there must be medical signs and laboratory findings that prove your impairment.
Therefore, to qualify for disability benefits you must show evidence of your pain through medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.
How medical records and reports can help establish pain as an impairment for Social Security disability benefits
The difficulty with getting objective medical evidence about pain is that medical science has not found a good way to measure and quantify pain. You can describe your symptoms to your doctor, but it is difficult for your doctor to know about your pain except through what you say.
However, there are some things that a doctor can observe and record that provide the Social Security Administration with sufficient medical findings to link your pain to a medically determinable impairment. For example, a medical report to the Social Security Administration in support of a disability claim may cover some of the following questions:
  • What are the objective findings about the patient?
  • What types of symptoms can be expected with these objective findings?
  • What things show that the patient’s symptoms are consistent with the objective findings?
  • Have other patients with similar objective findings described similar symptoms?
  • Are there things other than the objective medical evidence that make the patient’s description of symptoms believable?
  • Does the patient appear to be malingering?
  • Has the Social Security Administration’s doctor analyzed the objective evidence correctly?
Get a California Social Security Lawyer to help with your Social Security disability claim
Establishing eligibility to disability benefits to the Social Security Administration for an impairment consisting primarily of pain symptoms requires a careful and thorough record. The medical evidence must satisfy the Social Security requirement of showing a medically determinable basis for the pain. The Social Security requirements are technical and complex. Make sure that you have an experienced disability lawyer helping you with your claim. If you are not already represented by a California disability lawyer, and would like our evaluation of your case, fill out the form on the Contact page, or contact us at:
Charles D. Oren
Fresno Social Security disability lawyers


470 East Herndon Avenue, Suite 202
Fresno, CA 93720

1712 – 19th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301